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Natural Climate Change

WGBH, Teachers' Domain

This short video, adapted from NOVA, explains how Earth's position relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic shift in the climate of what is now the Saharan nation of Djibouti.

Video length 3:48 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Be sure to point out that diagrams are NOT to scale in the season animation.
  • In middle school, can be used in a climate unit or a unit on cycles of Earth. Would also fit in a unit on the water cycle.
  • High school educators may want to use this video to augment an ecology unit.

About the Science

  • Several lines of evidence for climate change 9000 years ago in this Saharan region are examined.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Contain a good explanation of precession (orbital cycle). The accompanying essay is good. The resource links to national science standards.

About the Pedagogy

  • A good essay and discussion questions accompany the video.
  • Female scientist is featured.
  • Scale, as in most animations of Earth's orbit around the sun, is highly exaggerated.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Picture is grainy if viewed online in full screen mode.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS1.B2:Cyclical changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun, together with changes in the tilt of the planet’s axis of rotation, both occurring over hundreds of thousands of years, have altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on the earth. These phenomena cause a cycle of ice ages and other gradual climate changes.

HS-ESS2.A3:The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles.

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

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