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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, both over the entire globe and as a global average. The model shows the temporary cooling effects during 5 major volcanic eruptions and estimates future temperature trends based on different amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

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 since the late 1800s, through the present, and into the future.
  • 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 of the model does not account for deep convection in the atmosphere, or changes in tropical precipitation, albedo, or Arctic sea ice concentration. These features are included in the next generation (Version 4) of this climate model.
  • 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.
  • Animation also available here http://scied.ucar.edu/model-simulation-past-present-and-future-climate-change

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:

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.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

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.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Patterns, Cause and effect, Stability and Change

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

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

HS-C7.3:Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

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