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Climate Momentum Simulation

Drew Drew Jones, Nicholas Owens, Climate Interactive

The Climate Momentum Simulation allows users to quickly compare the resulting sea level rise, temperature change, atmospheric CO2, and global CO2 emissions from six different policy options projected out to 2100.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Actions taken by different levels of society can mitigate climate change and increase preparedness for current and future generations
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPg
Increased GHG concentrations in atmosphere will remain high for centuries and affect future climate
About Teaching Principle 6
Other materials addressing 6b
Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
One way to manage energy resources is through conservation.
Other materials addressing:
6.2 Conserving energy.

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

  • One of a suite of simulations designed to help convey the challenge of reducing atmospheric CO2 and how various reduction scenarios will play out on sea level and temperature.
  • There is no specific teacher's guide for this animation. Interested educators will need to refer to material on the C-ROADS simulator that was used to develop the outputs. See: http://climateinteractive.org/simulations/C-ROADS/overview.

About the Science

  • A simple simulation with slider bar that shows how different scenarios impact sea level rise, temperature, atmospheric CO2 and Global CO2 emissions.
  • The different scenarios are 1) Business As Usual, 2) March 2009 Country Proposals, 3) Flatten CO2 emissions by 2025, 4) 29% below 2009 levels by 2040, 5) 80% reduction of global fossil fuel plus a 90% reduction in land use emissions by 2050, and 6) 95 reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020.
  • At the time of this review, the emissions goals on this simulation are from 2009. Newer emissions goals were set in the Paris Accord in 2015. Nonetheless, the primary lesson remains valid.
  • Links to extensive information are available from the site. The information on C-ROADS is particularly relevant since that is the basis for these projections. This section of the site is also updated with current information based on national pledges to limit emissions.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Illustrates the concept of CO2 "residence" time, and that there is some level of committed climate change, regardless of emissions reductions (i.e. "climate momentum"). I think this is a concept a lot of people don't appreciate, so this is a useful tool. Presentation is nice and clean; easy to understand what's happening, even for a general audience.

About the Pedagogy

  • This visualization is a convenient way of presenting four important projected climate impacts for years 2000-2100 based on six different scenarios.
  • It would be helpful to have more info about the scenarios -- although the bottom panel (CO2) emissions gives a good indication of what drives the simulations.
  • By comparing the results, students will get a sense of the impacts of several global policy options.
  • Because users are not running the full C-ROADS simulations but rather looking at the outputs from the six different runs, they may not fully appreciate the policy options or how the results are obtained, but this can serve as an introduction to help set the stage for examining the assumptions and data embedded in the C-ROADS simulator.
  • One small but important piece of the puzzle this simulation demonstrates is that sea level and temperature will continue to rise even if we achieve 95% reduction of carbon emissions.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • There is a widget that can be downloaded to embed the tool on other websites.
  • This resource runs in Adobe Flash, which is not available for all devices such as iPads.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Simulation/Interactive supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Patterns, Cause and effect

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.3: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

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.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

HS-ESS3.D2:Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.

HS-PS3.D2:The main way that solar energy is captured and stored on Earth is through the complex chemical process known as photosynthesis.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Patterns, Cause and effect

HS-C1.3:Patterns of performance of designed systems can be analyzed and interpreted to reengineer and improve the system.

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C2.3:Systems can be designed to cause a desired effect.

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

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