In this activity, students create graphs of real temperature data to investigate climate trends by analyzing the global temperature record from 1867 to the present. Long-term trends and shorter-term fluctuations are both evaluated. The data is examined for evidence of the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate forcing mechanisms on the global surface temperature variability. Students are prompted to determine the difficulties scientists face in using this data to make climate predictions.
In this role-playing activity, learners are presented with a scenario in which they determine whether the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping northern Europe warm. They must also address the potential future of the Gulf Stream if polar ice were to continue melting. The students work in small groups to identify the issue, discuss the problem, and develop a problem statement. They are then asked what they need to know to solve the problem.
This activity introduces students to global climate patterns by having each student collect information about the climate in a particular region of the globe. After collecting information, students share data through posters in class and consider factors that lead to differences in climate in different parts of the world. Finally, students synthesize the information to see how climate varies around the world.
A detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years introduces this topic in an engaging way. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and visible changes in that glacier.
In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.
In this activity, students examine global climate model output and consider the potential impact of global warming on tropical cyclone initiation and evolution. As a follow-up, students read two short articles on the connection between hurricanes and global warming and discuss these articles in context of what they have learned from model output.