|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.
|For more information
Global Warming: Early Warning Signs
Term Cooling on a Warming Planet
Record Snowstorms and Global Warming Coexist?
After working with this interactive, students
will be able to locate relevant temperature data and analyze
- Identify and describe a local, regional,
or global environmental issue. (6.0-B.
- Earth's systems are dynamic; they continually
react to changing influences. (NSF
- Interactions between components of the Earth's
climate system result in changes to the system and produce
emergent phenomena unique to the system. Human beings are
an integral part of Earth's climate system. Human activities
such as fossil fuel burning or deforestation can affect
climate and alter the equilibrium of the climate system.
- Human activities have affected the land,
oceans and atmosphere and have altered regional and global
climate. These activities include burning fossil fuels,
releasing chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing the amount
of forest cover, and rapidly expanding farming, development
and industrial activity. (NOAA
- The preponderance of scientific evidence
indicates that the observed increase in global average temperatures
since the latter part of the 20th century is very likely
due to documented increases in human-induced greenhouse
gas concentrations, primarily from the burning of fossil
|Can be used
with existing lesson plans on
Climate; Earth's temperature; climate variability;
analyzing tables, charts, and graphs
ways to use this asset to enrich your curriculum
- Las Niñas, Los Niños
Before or after students experience this interactive, involve
them in this activity: Natural climate variations are often
the result of climate patterns we call the El Niño or La
Niña southern oscillations. Investigate more about these
changes in Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures with a
look at NOAA's El
- What Next? After
students experience this interactive, involve them in this
activity: Although the chart in this activity does not define
what is going to happen to Earth's temperature in the future,
there are several scientists working on this issue now.
Investigate what data they are looking at and what some
of them are predicting for our future. This fact sheet
from NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory can help
you start this exploration
- In your Neighborhood
After students experience this interactive, involve them
in this activity: What's happening with temperatures and
precipitation in your area? NOAA's site US
Climate at a Glance can help you find out short and
long term data on a national, regional, state, and city
basis, plus print out data in customizable charts.
|Chart (PDF | Word) of Earth's Temperature, from Tracking Temperature Trends