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What is the Future of Earth's Climate?

The Concord Consortium

This is a series of 5 guided-inquiry activities that examine data and models that climate scientists use to attempt to answer the question of Earth's future climate.

The activities require about 45 min each.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Role of aerosols in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2e
Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c
Climate models are robust enough to be used for guiding decision and actions as response to climate change
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5e

Energy Literacy

Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by Earth's internal and external sources of energy.
Other materials addressing:
2.5 Energy moves between reservoirs.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

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

  • Educator should run the interactive model in the second activity with the entire class before letting them use it by themselves. Use this time to discuss what the yellow and red arrows represent and their behavior. Educator will also need to have a discussion about aerosols from erupted volcanoes.
  • Good for professional development of teachers.

About the Science

  • Focus of activity is the interactions among temperature, GHG concentrations, solar energy, feedbacks, and change over time as key factors in determining Earth's climate.
  • No original data or links to the algorithms that went into the interactive model are provided.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activities are all online, and student responses to questions posed in each activity can be entered and saved as they go, provided student is registered in the project portal (free).
  • Working through the 5 activities, students explore interactions among factors that affect Earth's climate, using graphed data, an interactive model, and a taped interview with a climate scientist, to learn how scientists use historical data and Earth system interactions to make predictions about climate in the future.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This set of activities runs entirely in a Web browser. Preferred browsers are: Google Chrome (versions 5 and above), Safari (versions 4 and above), Firefox (version 3.6.10 and above), and Internet Explorer (version 7, 8, or higher; note that version 6 or below does not work).

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