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Climate Modeling 101

National Academy of Sciences

This resource is a website that is a self-contained, multi-part introduction to how climate models work. The materials include videos and animations about understanding, constructing and applying climate models.

Unit will take at least six class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

  • There is no teaching guidance to this information, so educators will have to come up with questions or an assignment for students to follow with the website.
  • It might be helpful to assign as homework when learning about climate systems, models, or other parts of climate change.
  • Students could progress through the six sections as a class, small group, or individually.
  • Would also be useful for teacher professional development.

About the Science

  • This website explains how climate models work through six sections that address: Understanding Climate, Understanding Computer Models, Constructing a Climate Model, Validating Climate Models, Users of Climate Modeling, and Developers of Climate Models.
  • The information in this resource is based on expert consensus reports from the National Research Council's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, the most recent of which is 'A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling'.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    Excellent resource.
    - Examples of commonly used computer models
    - Explanation of processes represented in grid cells directed by mathematical equations, physical and chemical laws

About the Pedagogy

  • Six-part website would be best placed in a class on technology, weather forecasting, computer modeling, or understanding data. Students who are studying various aspects of climate would benefit from understanding how climate models work.
  • This resource is truly a "101" of climate modeling, organized in an easy-to-follow sequence from the most elementary of models to an illustration of how complex models are constructed and validated, and how and by whom they are used. It is self-paced, with no external scaffolding for either the instructor or the student, but organized in chunks of video clips, interactive visualizations, and text that can be explored one by one, stopping as needed.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy to use, but contains a variety of information and formats.
  • Technical quality is good. Self-contained resource.
Entered the Collection: May 2018 Last Reviewed: May 2015

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