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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.

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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

  • 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.

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