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The impact of a global temperature rise of 4 degrees C

UK Met Service

This poster, viewable online, highlights some of the impacts of a global-average temperature rise of 4 degrees C above the pre-industrial age climate.

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Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educators could seed a discussion of this map with questions about why certain impacts are projected for different regions.
  • Educators may want to ask students what can be done to adapt human systems to the change, and how will ecosystems on which we depend adapt?

About the Science

  • This visualization shows some of the major global impacts from a global mean temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius.
  • It was produced by the UK Met Office - Hadley Centre.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
  • This is a relatively good graphically-driven overview of some of the expected consequences of a 2C rise in global temperatures. I particularly like the shading on the map indicating the projected temperature increases - which shows that while large areas will experience on average a 2C warming, some areas (i.e. over the oceans) will experience less and some (i.e. poles) will experience much more.
  • No references are provided, so it's hard to know where these numbers (i.e 40cm sea level rise) come from, or to follow up and read more.
  • Possibly because this is produced by the UK-based Hadley center, the graphic makes it seem like Europe will be hardest-hit by climate change. The way the colored ellipses are placed on the map are pretty misleading - for instance the sea level rise ellipse sits over Greenland (perhaps because melting glaciers in Greenland could be signficant source of additional sea level rise) - but impacts (which this graphic is supposed to be showing) are more likely to be a problem in Pacific Islands or other low-lying regions like Bangladesh - not Greenland. Droughts are likely to be a problem for a lot of areas as well, like Australia, the Pacific Islands, etc. that are not shown with this graphic.
  • Color coding for some of the cities doesn't show up - i.e. the Indian cities appear black. Other major cities in Asia (possibly other continents as well) are missing, like Shanghai (14 million), Beijing (11 million), Tokyo (33 mi), Karachi (25 mi), Manila, Osaka, Jakarta, etc.

About the Pedagogy

  • The map is information-rich.
  • It encourages students to explore how a number of different impacts are connected to temperature rise and to each other, and how these impacts differ around the globe.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

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