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What's Happening to Our Climate: Natural Factors Cannot Explain the Recent Warming

Aspen Global Change Insitution, Climate Conncection

This classroom resource is a combination of 3 visualizations and accompanying text that illustrate how 3 key natural phenomena - cyclical changes in solar energy output, major volcanic eruptions over the last century, and El Nino/Nina cycles - are insufficient to explain recent global warming.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Static Visualization builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

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

Energy Literacy

This Static Visualization 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

  • Educators using this set of visualizations could consider using it to introduce climate change with the understanding that natural variation in temperature fluctuations cannot account for the upward trend in global temperatures.
  • Could be used for homework for students to look at natural causes of global temperature fluctuation before a lesson on global warming and human causes of global temperature change.
  • Graphics may require more background knowledge than students have acquired.
  • References are linked to reputable resources that provide the end users a good visual with supporting documents.
  • For younger students, educator may need to explain what "trends" are to students: "What constitutes a trend?" "How many years?"

About the Content

  • Long-term variation of the Sun's energy output measured from satellite data is compared to Earth's global surface temperature trends. While Earth's orbit and angle towards the Sun do impact influence climate, they have extremely long timescales that don't account for the current trends we are seeing in climate change.
  • A graph from IPCC shows the correlation of volcanic eruptions with global temperatures. It illustrates that major volcanic eruptions of the past century had short-term cooling effects but did not change the long-term warming trend in atmospheric temperature.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    Extensive resource!
    - Plethora of information on how climate change works, what the effects are, and what humans can do to help
    - The scientific explanations are brief and simple but one could always do more research on a specific topic to find more detailed information

About the Pedagogy

  • The resource includes a combination of graphs and supplemental text; audio track provides a good jumping off point for questioning what is the cause of global warming.
  • Good introduction to several natural factors that can have short-term warming or cooling effects.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video plays well on desktop computer at full screen; could be used on projector to share in whole-class discussions.
  • Easily accessible and clear to read.
  • Direct links provided to other resources on external websites that could complement students' understanding that 'Natural Factors Cannot Explain the Recent Warming'.

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

Supporting materials to research topics more completely found https://www.climatecommunication.org/resources/#reports
Entered the Collection: June 2018 Last Reviewed: July 2016

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