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An interactive that allows students to explore a graph of world-wide temperatures to analyze and understand the data it includes


Climate change is a matter of great discussion throughout our society. One cold month in one location often leads to headlines like this: "Where is global warming when you need it?"

It often seems that differing factions present different data to support different claims. There are those that say that Earth's temperature has been cooling in recent years. And they can provide data that says that ... since 1998, average Earth temperatures have fallen. But the problem is, if you choose another year to look at (1997 or 1999, for example), temperatures have risen or stayed the same. In other words, it's not just the data; it's also the way you interpret the data. And those who take a longer view of the picture say that the trend toward a warming climate is a definite reality. The problem, scientists say, is that people who say the Earth is cooling are looking at isolated data that does not fully acknowledge natural variability that can cause short term cooling periods within a longer term warming trend.

Understanding the substance behind the headlines and selecting the right data in an onslaught of charts and graphs is difficult even for seasoned readers. That is why being able to understand data like that contained in this activity is so important for today's students.

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Learning Objective

After working with this interactive, students will be able to locate relevant temperature data and analyze its significance.

Standards Addressed
Can be used with existing lesson plans on

Climate; Earth's temperature; climate variability; analyzing tables, charts, and graphs

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