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Global Climate Change: What Does it Look Like?


Author(s)

Ronald L. Carnell
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
University of Washington Bothell
Rebecca M. Price
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
University of Washington Bothell
becca.price@uwb.edu

Abstract

In this interrupted case study, Ph.D.-paleoclimatologist-turned-TV-meteorologist Sara Fahrenheit finds herself projected into a future climate that reminds her of the Early Eocene: it's hot, it's humid, and seems tropical. The story is a vehicle for teaching students how to distinguish between climate and weather by exploring the difference between average conditions and one-time anomalies. Students explore how to minimize the impact of their own carbon footprint and how small changes can scale up to make a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the case, students find, graph, and interpret data about global climate change. They also learn why a shift in just one degree Celsius can impact the Earth's climate dramatically. The case is appropriate for college classes and advanced high school classes in general science, history of life, climatology, environmental science, and ecology.


Objectives

  • Use the concept of average to distinguish between weather events, such as El Niño and La Niña, and climate.
  • Describe some of the data and methods that paleoclimatologists use to reconstruct ancient climates.
  • Practice finding, graphing, and interpreting data about global climate change.
  • Construct scientifically based predictions about climate change.

Keywords

Global climate change; weather; El Nino; La Nina; graphing; Eocene; paleoclimatology; carbon dioxide; greenhouse gas; carbon footprint

Topical Areas

Policy issues, Science and the media

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Interrupted, Jig-Saw

Language

English

Subject Headings

Climatology / Meteorology  |   Environmental Science  |   Ecology  |   Earth Science  |   Atmospheric Science  |   Geology  |   Biology (General)  |   Science (General)  |  


Date Posted

1/6/2012

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