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Natural Climate Change
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.watcyc.naturalchange/

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.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Gradual changes in Earth's rotation and orbit around the Sun change the intensity of sunlight received in our planet’s polar and equatorial regions. For at least the last 1 million years, these changes occurred in 100,000-year cycles that produced ice ages and the shorter warm periods between them.
About Teaching Principle 1
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Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
About Teaching Principle 4
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mate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
About Teaching Principle C
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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.

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