Educators at the Royal Society of Chemistry developed this activity. The first section is aimed at helping students think about factors which affect energy flow and therefore the temperature, weather, and climate of the earth. In the second part, the Earth's surface temperature is analysed using up-to-date online information and data from various weather stations around the globe to look at the evidence of climate change.
Students will learn how climate modelling is undertaken and the level of complexity needed in the process. In regards to temperature data, this activity will improve students' data analysis skills and knowledge how the data of the past is essential in forecasting climate change phenomena for the present and future.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
In this unit the two activities will help students broaden their knowledge via a modelling system. Data on the temperature of earth is presented for analysis.
This is an introduction in to how climate change-related modelling is done.
Earth surface temperature data
In this section, recent climate data from around globe is presented as evidence of climate change.
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
Climate models are huge computer simulations detailing the entire surface of the Earth. This resource aims to get students thinking about some of the challenges which the modellers face. The results from climate models are generally referred to as ‘predictions.’ Current thinking is that the word ‘projection’ might be a better term, as ‘prediction’ suggests that there is a single truth which can be obtained. Both words are used in this resource. These computer simulations are tested to ensure that they can accurately ‘predict’ past climates and then utilized to project what the climate might be like in the future. Models which can accurately ‘predict’ the past still give very different projections for the future so this is not an exact science.
Earth temperature data is obtained from direct measurement with a thermometer and also from satellite observation. The earliest and longest continually running temperature record is the Central England Temperature Record which has been monitored since the late 1600s. The phrase ‘since records began’ is often used in the media when temperature data is being discussed and usually refers to around 1850 when global temperature records began. This data clearly shows that since this time the Earth has warmed up. Temperature and climate data are also used by climate scientists to enable them to build climate models.
Since this exercise uses data, numbers, and assumptions, students will work in groups to answer a few questions about this phenomenon and the data on temperature. The presentation and interpretation of data in graphical form will be a useful tool to determine what students have learned from this resource. The resources in PDF have few questions within the text to answer and students are encouraged to give their own analytical prospect on it.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
How a climate model is developed and how past temperature data of Earth is essential in predicting future changes in climate.