Global Climate Change: The Effects of Global Warming
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.
Changes to Earth's global climate have had and will have major consequences for life on Earth. Using evidence preserved in ice for tens of thousands of years, scientists are searching for an understanding of the history of Earth's climate changes in order to better predict what the future holds for life on the planet. In this lesson, students learn about ways in which we study past climate change, and reflect on the present condition of Earth's climate. They explore the effect of greenhouse gases on Earth's atmosphere, and begin to consider the human impact on global warming.
(Note: This is the first of two global climate change lesson plans. You may want to follow this lesson with Global Climate Change: The Effects of Global Warming Lesson Plan .)
Two class periods
For each pair or small group of students:
One clock to be used by the entire class
If possible, arrange computer access for all students to work individually or in pairs. Prepare thermometers, jars, and sun lamps for each pair or small group of students.
1. Write the word climate on the board and ask students to try to define it. Write down their suggestions on the board. Once the list is complete, help students synthesize their ideas into a class definition. For example, one definition might be: "Climate is how weather acts over a large area over many years." Then have students discuss different types of climate areas on Earth: for example, polar, temperate, mountain, etc.
2. Ask students to think about the term global climate . Ask them how global climate might differ from regional or local climate. Discuss with students that the term global climate describes Earth's overall climate variability — such as average temperature, average precipitation, average intensity of winds, and other conditions of Earth's overall atmosphere and at its surface — separate from any specific weather events or local climate conditions. Show the Climate Change QuickTime Video and discuss the following questions:
3. Ice cores are critical to understanding the conditions on Earth over the past 40,000 years, but obtaining them is no easy task. Have students work in pairs or small groups to explore the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2: A Record of Climate Change Flash Interactive to learn about the difficulties scientists face as they drill for ice cores in Greenland, and to find out what the scientists are learning about global climate change from the ice. Have students answer the following questions in their journals: Why do you think this project was so difficult to mount and took as long as it did?
4. Dramatic global climate change is evident in many places on Earth. For example, Djibouti, which lies east of the Sahara is one of the hottest and most arid countries in the world. However, it wasn't always this way. Show students the Natural Climate Change in Djibouti, Africa QuickTime Video and discuss these questions:
5. Divide the class into small groups to begin exploring the effects of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere. Distribute the prepared materials to each group. Have each group place three thermometers within a few inches of each other on a sunny windowsill or under a sun lamp. Be sure that all three thermometers receive the same amount of light for the entire class period. Have students move on to the next activity, but ask them to periodically check the thermometers until they are at exactly the same temperature. Ask students to record this temperature and the time.
6. Now cover two thermometers with glass jars, leaving one thermometer uncovered. Students should place a wet paper towel inside one of the two jars. Use water at room temperature to wet the paper towel. (In this experiment, the water vapor will act like a greenhouse gas and increase the temperature in the jar with the wet paper towel even more than the temperature in the dry jar.) Continue with the next activity, but have students periodically check all three thermometers and record the temperature and time.
7. The presence of greenhouse gases, compounds in the atmosphere that trap heat, maintains Earth's temperature. Human activities, however, are increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and affecting global temperatures. Show students the video Global Warming: The Physics of the Greenhouse Effect QuickTime Video to introduce them to these concepts, and have them answer these questions:
8. If they have not already done so, have students take temperature readings of the thermometers inside the jars and compare them to the temperature of the thermometer outside the jars. Then show the video Global Warming: Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect QuickTime Video and discuss the following:
9. In small groups, have students take their final temperature measurements and analyze the data that they have collected. Students should graph the data to show how the temperature of the thermometers under the "dry" glass jar and the "moist" glass jar changed throughout the day, and how these temperatures compared with the temperature of the thermometer outside the jars. Finally, ask students to write a summary of their findings and how these results compare to the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere.
Have students discuss the following:
The Digital Library for Earth System Education (www.dlese.org) offers access to additional resources on this topic.