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How do Climate Models Work

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This in-depth interactive slideshow about how climate models work is embedded with a lot of background information. It also describes some of the projected climate change impacts to key sectors such as water, ecosystems, food, coasts, health. (scroll down page for interactive)

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Using this interactive may be a great way to introduce the concept of how models are used in science and the value of long-term observations to make predictions.
  • A simple chart that helps students identify what the scientist is trying to figure out, what a model is used for, and how a model is helpful in science, would be a good pre-viewing exercise.
  • A guide for students to use while they go through the slide-show and read the materials would be useful - something to hold the students accountable for reading the information and to help point out main ideas.

About the Science

  • A global climate model is a mathematical representation of the interactions between and within the ocean, land, ice, and atmosphere. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to increase unless the billions of tons of our annual emissions decrease substantially.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Hits the high points regarding climate modeling. For the most part, it's at a level understandable to a member of the general public. Explains natural variability, and why natural variability alone can not explain recent observed changes in climate. Mentions the Keeling Curve in the text (CO2 ppm since late 1950's), but there is no graphic for it. It is suggested to supplement this resource with that graphic.

About the Pedagogy

  • Teaching students about the value of models in scientific research is directly linked to how the nature of science works. This slideshow takes students through that process.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Clean, clear and easy to read and follow. Must be used online. Must scroll down on the main page since there are several visualization available.
  • For ease of use, make each topic its own page. For some students it might be overwhelming to have everything grouped together.

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