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Global Warming and Climate Change

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal." This statement, in the 2007 IPCC report, could not be more clear. Of all the anthropogenic effects on the environment studied by this course, global warming has the most dire consequences for human society. Yet, this is also one of the most debated ideas in the curriculum, and may contain the most misconceptions. The purpose of this unit is to give students a clear understanding of the underlying science behind global warming, the observations and data that support its continued increase, and the known links betwen global warming and human influences.


Global Warming and Climate Change Powerpoint

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Purpose: This lecture centers around the clips of the movie Inconvenient Truth, starring Al Gore. It begins with an introduction to the greenhouse effect and basic background on the specific gases in the atmosphere that create it. Second, the temperature and carbon dioxide data referenced by the movie and IPCC are shown. Next, global warming is related to changes in the hydrologic cycle such as increased hurricane strength, droughts, heavy precipitation events, the great ocean conveyor, and El Nino. Finally, an argument is given for taking action and dealing with the issue in the present, rather than waiting. A student notes outline is also available for this lecture.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle, stratoshield.


Global Warming and Climate Change Notes Outline

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Purpose: Taking efficient notes can be a big challenge for many students, especially when working from a Powerpoint lecture. This outline gives students a means to take notes that guides them toward important concepts and avoids the pitfalls of writing word-for-word or simply not taking notes at all. The outline is written as a series of questions, fill-in-the-blanks, or diagrams. This outline is based on the Powerpoint lecture written specifically for this unit.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle, stratoshield.


Graphing the Impact of Global Warming on Hurricanes

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Purpose: One of the most significant climate years in recent history is 2005. This year was the warmest in recorded history, and had the greatest number of hurricanes. In addition, one of the most damaging hurricanes to ever hit the United States, Hurricane Katrina, made landfall in New Orleans. The Inconvenient Truth movie, which was released in 2006, strongly suggested a potential link between these storm events and the ever-increasing surface air and water temperatures. This link is very much in debate, and this activity will allow students to directly look at the data and make their own conclusions about the possible relationship.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, climate, greenhouse effect.


Webquest: Global Warming, Signs and Sources

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Purpose: This Discovery Channel website does an excellent job walking students through all of the effects global warming has on the Earth's climate, ecosystems, sea levels, and ocean water chemistry. This worksheet provides an outline of questions for students to answer as they explore the website.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle, ocean pH, acidification, coral reef bleaching, coastal flooding.


An Inconvenient Truth - Documentary Worksheet

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Purpose: This worksheet presents discussion questions based on the big ideas from each of the main sections of the documentary. No questions are asked from the sections of the movie that focus on Al Gore's biography. The focus here is completely on the science of global warming and its impacts on our civilization. Instructors may experience better results with this documentary if they skip through the biographic sections entirely. The questions may be answered by students either during the movie showing or after each section. I've found the best results when showing the movie in sections. This seems to minimize any loss of attention on the students' part.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle, ocean pH, acidification, coral reef bleaching, coastal flooding.


Planet Earth - Ice Worlds

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Purpose: This episode of Planet Earth focuses on the polar ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctica. While global warming is not the main theme of this episode, it does serve to highlight the fragility of each ecosystem and their vulnerability to the Earth warming. One sequence of note shows a male polar bear's desperate struggle to find food, eventually leading him to take on a large herd of walrus.

Essential Concepts: Polar ecosystems, arctic tundra, Antarctica, global warming, ice cap melting, coral reef bleaching.


Global Warming Research Essay

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Purpose: This research assignment is a good cumulative assessment of the unit. Students are given a series of resources, categorized by informational and persuasive. After viewing the resources, and based on what was covered during the unit students should be able to form and defend a position on whether global warming is occuring, and if it is anthropogenic in nature.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, climate change, greenhouse gases.


Global Warming and Climate Change Study Guide

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Purpose: Once the instruction for the unit is completed, students can complete this study guide to aid in their preparation for a written test. The study guide is divided into two sections: vocabulary and short answer questions. The vocabulary is taken directly form the lecture, sequentially. The short answer questions are meant to model the type they may see on the exam.

Essential Concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle, ocean pH, acidification, coral reef bleaching, coastal flooding.


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