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Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Soil Loss

S. Fortner, M. Murphy, H. Scherer, INTEGRATE Project, SERC, Carleton College

In this activity, students investigate soil erosion and how a changing climate could influence erosion rates in agricultural areas. This activity is part of a larger InTeGrate module called Growing Concern.

Activity takes one 50-minute class plus 2 homework assignments.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Energy Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Energy Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

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

  • Includes good introduction to soil science and management, but could also be used as a wrap-up lesson as it integrates natural and human dimensions and decision-making.
  • This activity, like the others in its module, requires students to work cooperatively to consider complex issues from a systems perspective. This may be new for some students, and they may need more guidance from the instructor than is provided on the handouts. These activities are intended to give students a chance to think through the concepts on their own, so some of the questions are intentionally open-ended with multiple "correct" answers. It is important for the instructor to circulate and help students as they are working to alleviate frustration that can occur as a result of this type of work.

About the Content

  • Uses a box model to explore the link between climate change and agriculture, specifically erosion and crop yields.
  • Presents soil erosion as an interdisciplinary issue that is affected by natural processes and human activity and decision-making.
  • Good introduction to science of soil erosion through clear explanation and visuals.
  • Good introduction to predictive models.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It provides an overview of the Universal Soil Loss Equation and introduces the various parts. It is very important historically and relevant scientifically in many fields that deal with soil and land management.

About the Pedagogy

  • Uses systems thinking to allow students to investigate interactions between factors that contribute to soil erosion and their relationship to climate change.
  • Provides ample background information and a step-by-step guide to using the provided PowerPoint presentation as a classroom activity.
  • Activity is well designed for both student and instructor use. Separate instructor files are provided by registration.
  • Is one unit of a 6-unit module, but can be used as a stand-alone lesson as well.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The exercises where students are asked to move around are not really given as scientific. They seem more socially oriented, such as to discuss with a neighbor things seen in the pictures. It seems that more could be done with apparatus: measuring the properties of various soils, infiltration rates, porosity, composition. They could then be asked to hypothesize how things might change if the climate changed. In this way, they would learn how to apply scientific methods to the issue of erosion, and the factors affecting it, as it relates to agriculture and land management.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All information is easily accessible and provided in Word documents or PowerPoint files. Do not need internet access to complete activity.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/videos/science-hungry-world-agriculture-and-climate-change
Entered the Collection: February 2017 Last Reviewed: May 2015

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