c. Changes in climate conditions can affect the health and function of ecosystems and the survival of entire species. The distribution patterns of fossils show evidence of gradual as well as abrupt extinctions related to climate change in the past.
This is a photo essay linked to a New York Times story about climate-related stressors on forests -- including mountain pine beetles, forest fires, forest clearance, and ice storms -- and the importance of protecting forests as an important carbon sink.
This narrated slide show gives a brief overview of coral biology and how coral reefs are in danger from pollution, ocean temperature change, ocean acidification, and climate change. In addition, scientists discuss how taking cores from corals yields information on past changes in ocean temperature.
This teaching activity addresses environmental stresses on corals. Students assess coral bleaching using water temperature data from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. Students learn about the habitat of corals, the stresses on coral populations, and the impact of increased sea surface temperatures on coral reefs. In a discussion section, the connection between coral bleaching and global warming is drawn.
In this activity, students learn about how climate change is affecting the Arctic ecosystem and then investigate how this change is impacting polar bear populations. Students analyze maps of Arctic sea ice, temperature graphs, and polar bear population data to answer questions about the impact of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem.
In this activity, students calculate temperatures during a time in the geologic record when rapid warming occurred using a well known method called 'leaf-margin analysis.' Students determine the percentage of the species that have leaves with smooth edges, as opposed to toothed, or jagged, edges. Facsimiles of fossil leaves from two collection sites are examined, categorized, and the data is plugged into an equation to provide an estimate of paleotemperature for two sites in the Bighorn Basin.
In this activity, students develop an understanding of the relationship between natural phenomena, weather, and climate change: the study known as phenology. In addition, they learn how cultural events are tied to the timing of seasonal events. Students brainstorm annual natural phenomena that are tied to seasonal weather changes. Next, they receive information regarding the Japanese springtime festival of Hanami, celebrating the appearance of cherry blossoms. Students plot and interpret average bloom date data from over the past 1100 years.