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Climate Change as Simulated by NCAR

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

This animation depicts global surface warming as simulated by NCAR's Community Climate System Model (CCSM) Version 3. It shows the temperature anomalies relative to the end of the 19th century (1870-1899), both over the entire globe and as a global average. The model shows the temporary cooling effects during the 5 major volcanic eruptions of this time period, and then the model's estimates of warming under the different scenarios taken from the fourth IPCC report.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Global warming and especially arctic warming is recorded in natural geological and historic records
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4e
Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c

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

  • This animation could be effectively used in classroom discussions of the broad changes in surface temperature through the Industrial Revolution.
  • Works best when students watch one section of the world at a time, i.e., the Arctic first, Antarctica, then their own region of the US.

About the Science

  • This animation is based on simulation runs from Version 3 of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate System Model. This version does not handle deep convection in the atmosphere, tropical precipitation, albedo, Arctic sea ice concentration, etc. included in the most recent version 4.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It's a good summary of what one model projects for future temperature. The video is straightforward and gets the point across well. The important scientific assumptions (i.e. emissions) are explicitly pointed out. It also points out the significant cooling effect of volcanic eruptions, which is rarely shown as explicitly.

About the Pedagogy

  • There is no direct pedagogical support for this animation, although there are web links and on-video descriptions that make it clear what the video is illustrating.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The layout of the animation is excellent, with the distribution of the surface temperatures on the top layer and global mean below, with appropriate labels highlighting important features of the simulation.
  • The Quicktime version or full screen is much better resolution than the one embedded on the page.

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