These modules explore natural factors that have controlled climate change over a range of timescales. Students will consider how these factors have affected climate over the past 400,000 years and predict how they are likely to change over the next 200,000 years.
Students will use data from satellites, climate models and field observations to make predictions about the future of climate change. To do this they will use their knowledge of the Earth’s climate system to analyze climate data and interpret satellite imagery
Students will predict how much the changing configuration of the continents will affect climate over the next 200,000 years. They will focus on ocean circulation, orogenesis, and the probable rate of carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere.
Students will explore the role of Milankovitch orbital cycles in controlling climate change and use this knowledge to predict how global climate will change over the next 200,000 years in the absence of anthropogenic factors.
Students will calculate the impact of changes in the area of Arctic sea ice on albedo and global heat balance and compare these changes with the impact of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Students will assess the likely impact of volcanic activity on climate change over the next 200,000 years using historical and geological evidence of the frequency of past eruptions.
The first two modules in this series examined the evidence for climate change in the distant past from ice cores and from recent history using various climate proxies.. The next four modules in the series examine some of the major factors that control future climate change. Starting on a time scale of millions of years, module three considers the impact of tectonic forces on climate. On a scale of thousands of years, module four examines the impact of changing orbital conjuration. Modules five and six then examine the impact of changing albedo in the Arctic and the impact of volcanic activity on a scale of decades. Modules 4,5 and 6 use data from spreadsheets created in MS Office 2011. These spreadsheets are data protected to stop the embedded formula from getting overwritten, but there is no password, so students are free to change, manipulate (correct!) anything they want to.
These modules are suitable for use both as laboratory exercises for individuals and groups of students as well as self-learning exercises. They are designed for students who have studied some background in the relevant areas, although some background material and references are included. The question and answer format is designed to lead the student to think critically as they study and develop their observational and analytical skills.
Students are advised to complete modules one and two first, as these introduce them to some of the principles involved, but it should be possible to use these as stand alone units.
These modules are not intended to be assessed directly as answers are provided in text as a means to guide and develop the student understanding of the topics. Critical thinking questions may be used to assess how well the students have understood the material after completing the modules.
Future Climate: Instructions and Questions
This file contains the text, questions and answers to the future climate modules
Milankovitch Cycles and Climate: Spreadsheet for use with the written exercise.
Eccentricity Exercise: Spreadsheet for use with the written exercise.
Ice Sheet Data: Spreadsheet for use with the written exercise.
Volcanic Activity Data: Spreadsheet for use with the written exercise.
-Impact of Geoengineering