Lesson 16: Climate Change
During these last two weeks of the semester we'll explore several topics that
are the "flip sides" of the resouce issues we've been considering
for the past month. Specifically, we'll look at how humanity deals with the
waste and pollution that result from the use of Earth's resources, and at the
roles some pollutants are playing in changing the global environment. This week we'll focus on climate change and how it is affecting both living and non-living systems on Earth (like the Marjerie glacier in Alaska, right). In many
cases, these are not uplifting topics. One of the promises of science, however,
is that by objective study of nature we can learn what we've done wrong in the
past and how to improve the future.
As you read through chapter 18 on climate change in our text and study the accompanying websites it will be helpful to take careful notes. Writing out key facts in your own words or making neatly labeled drawings will help you better understand the significance of what you've read and spot any gaps in your knowledge. Having complete notes will also make it easier for you to review for this week's quiz and and access what you've learned when you want to refer back to it for future assignments. Be sure that you are prepared to meet the learning objectives outlined below before you move on to the quiz at the bottom of the page. For this week's exercise you'll be revising your first abstract to come up with a final version that is as informative and well-written as possible.
Weekly Learning Objectives
Upon successful completion of this week's lesson, a student is expected to be able to:
- Contrast weather and climate, and explain why an individual weather event (storm, drought, etc.) cannot be cited as evidence of climate change.
- Describe three sources of data from the geologic record that can be used to reconstruct Earth's climate on time scales longer than the instrumental and historical records allow.
- List the five major anthropogenic greenhouse gases and explain why, despite it smaller potential for causing warming, carbon dioxide is presently of the greatest concern.
- Outline how the greenhouse effect raises the temperatures of Earth's atmosphere and ocean, and indicate what the current estimate of climate forcing is due to human activities.
- Explain what it means to say that a process is linked to climate change by positive feedback versus negative feedback, and give an example of each type of process.
- Contrast how the loss of glaciers (and ice caps) versus sea ice is likely to affect (1) continued warming of the planet and (2) the rise of sea level.
- Outline three strategies that humans can use to reduce the effects of climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels and the accompanying release of carbon dioxide.
Reading and Browsing Assignment
- Read Chapter 18, focusing on the topics outlined in the learning objectives above.
- Check out the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- Check out the NASA Global Climate Change.
- To learn more about current research on climate change, check out the Goddard Institute for Space Studies website. The institute, which is part of NASA, "emphasizes a broad study of global climate change."
- Finally, for an overview of the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon and up-to-date satellite images of sea surface temperatures across the Pacific, check out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Ocean Surface Topography site.
Exercise 16: Second Abstract (Due by 9:00 AM on 5-Dec-2011)
After you have received your first abstract back please print a copy and review my comments. Then let me know a good time for us to talk. We can either visit at the College or talk over the phone. I want to go over the comments I made on your first abstract before you write your second one. The instructions for writing your second abstract are the same as for the first, and can be found on the Writing Assignment page. When you are finished revising your abstract, please go to Exercise 16 in the Etudes "Assignments, Tests, and Surveys" area and follow the instructions to attach your file.
Quiz 16: Climate Change (Due by 9:00 AM on 5-Dec-2011.)
After you feel you have met the learning outcomes outlined above, please complete Quiz 16 in the Etudes "Assignments, Tests, and Surveys" area. There are ten questions, each worth one point. If you can answer all of them correctly it means that you know your way around the basics of climate change pretty well and are ready to move on to a more detailed look at air pollution and waste management next week. Remember, answers will be available for review after 10:00 AM on the Tuesday after the quiz closes, so please look over the results of your quiz and contact me if you have any questions about either content or scoring.