Changes in Hardiness Zones
Arbor Day Foundation
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Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- This would be a good tool to introduce the idea that climate warming affects society in various ways.
About the Science
- Hardiness zones are determined by the coldest wintertime temperature expected in a given location. The actual low temperature could be higher or lower than that specified by the hardiness zone.
- The Arbor Day Foundation determined a need for a new hardiness zone map and used NOAA data to create the newer 2006 map http://www.arborday.org/media/zonechanges2006.cfm.
- The US Department of Agriculture continues to use the map they generated in 1990.
- A related map shows where the largest changes from 1990 to 2006 have occurred: http://www.arborday.org/media/map_change.cfm.
- Comments from expert scientist: The changes of the hardiness zones in the U.S. are consistent with the phenolgy changes reported in the scientific literature.
About the Pedagogy
- Comparing the 1990 and 2006 US Hardiness Zones gives students a good idea of how tangibly the climate in the continental US has warmed over 15 years.
- Emphasizing why gardeners and farmers rely on the hardiness zone maps can help explain their relevance.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- When the user presses "play" there is a visible shift in the hardiness zone from 1990 to 2006. When the user presses "difference," the shifts across zones are highlighted.
- There is some commentary about these maps in the press release - http://www.arborday.org/media/zonechanges2006.cfm
- A high-resolution version of this map is available for download.