This lesson will introduce the terms weather, climate and phenology. These terms are
essential to understanding climate change and how it is impacting and will impact biomes.
As discussed in lesson 2, climate is an important and defining characteristic of the biomes
The difference between weather and climate is an essential concept to understand when
learning about climate change. Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley defines climate as the
“quantitative description of historical weather for a given place over a given interval of time
… [climate descriptions] include the physical and biological features of Earth’s surface, their
interactions and atmospheric feedbacks.” In other words, climate is not just one instance of
snow or rain or heat, but the many weather events over long periods of time (multiple years)
that define a particular geographical area as hot and dry, cold and wet, etc.
Weather, on the other hand is “… the recent, current, and near-future state of the
atmosphere. The most common elements include temperature, humidity, precipitation,
cloudiness, visibility and wind.” Weather is what is going on outside your window right now
and one instance of weather does not define a particular area.
According to the USA National Phenology Network; “Phenology refers to recurring plant
and animal life cycle stages … such as leafing and flowering, maturation of agricultural plants,
emergence of insects, and migration of birds. Many of these events are sensitive to climatic
variation and change. ...” (http://www.usanpn.org/) Keeping track of the phenology outside
your school can be a fun way for students to make connections between the physical factors
related to climate and the biotic reactions by flora and fauna. Regardless of where your
school is located, students will be able to observe phenology, and it is an excellent way to
draw connections between climate and living things
• Students will define climate and weather.
• Students will define climate change.
• Students will define phenology.
• Students will gather their own weather data from their school site and record it in their journals.
• Students will graphically represent authentic data from Minnesota’s Climatology site.
• Students will make three predictions of how a change in climate might affect Minnesota’s biomes.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Download pdf >> Lessons 1 - 6
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
A. If you were going to describe to someone who has never been to Minnesota,
what the climate of Minnesota is like, how would you describe it? Would you
compare or contrast it with somewhere else so that they would be able to
picture it? Where?
B. If you were going to describe to someone what the weather is like today,
how would you describe it?
C. What is the weather like today for the animal or plant you “met” in lesson
2? Look on the map and describe what you think of when you think of the
climate of the biome where that animal or plant is found.
2. Share with your neighbor what you wrote. Did you write similar things for A and B?
Assessment is at the discretion of the educator as to how the resource is used and what they intend to gain from using it.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES