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Earth's Changing Climates

Concord Consortium

In this activity, students are guided through graphs of surface air temperature anomaly data and Vostok ice core data to illustrate how scientists use these data to develop the basis for modeling how climate is likely to change in the future.

Activity takes about one 50-minute period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

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 are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

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

  • Educator may need to add explanation/scaffolding to some of the mathematical terminology used depending on background level of students.
  • Activity is probably best used in sequence with the other 4 activities in the What is the Future of Earth's Climate? module; http://authoring.concord.org/sequences/47.
  • Although some scaffolding is provided with understanding anomaly graphs, educator may need to spend more time unpacking this concept.
  • Educator will need to unpack the IPCC scenarios.

About the Science

  • Activity draws on NASA data, showing temperature changes over the past 120 years, and data from the Vostok ice core to look at climate trends over different time scales.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - introduction of anomaly and visual representations of anomalies
    - interpreting climate data from graphs

    - lacks an explanation of how gases translate to temperature from ice cores (part 5)

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is the first of 5 activities in the High Adventure Science module, What is the Future of Earth's Climate?
  • Activity does a good job of explaining elements of the visualizations to students (such as running mean, annual mean, baseline error bars) and then poses questions to which students respond online, generating a report of the questions and their responses at the end of the activity.
  • The High Adventure Science website http://has.concord.org has supportive instructions and information for teachers. If teachers register their classes through the portal provided, they can access students answers to questions and other data.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent quality and easy to use.
  • All aspects of the lesson including the data tools and fill in answer boxes provide seamless experience for students.

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


Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

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.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Patterns, Systems and System Models

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

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.

HS-P4.3:Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error, sample selection) when analyzing and interpreting data

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.

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