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EDC: Earth Science, Revised

EDC: Atmosphere and Climate, Revised | Unit 2

EDC: Atmosphere and Climate, Revised | Unit 2

9-11 weeks

Chapter 4 Local Connections: Regional Climate

Students start their exploration of climate close to home, learning about the climate in their local area and comparing it to a chosen travel destination. Students learn how climate is measured and how it affects the flora and fauna of a landscape. They investigate key factors that cause climate to vary so much around the world.

Chapter 5 Making a Case: Global Climate

Students read about a community in Alaska that is threatened by global warming and is saying fossil fuel burning is to blame; inhabitants have filed a lawsuit that says energy companies should pay to relocate the town. Students research the factors that influence global climate. They develop exhibitions for the trial jury that describe the science of climate change and specifically address the link between fossil fuel combustion and global warming.

Chapter 6 The Longest Experiment: Climate Change in Earth’s History

Students explore two time periods in Earth’s past when climate was very different from today—the warm Cretaceous and a glacial interval of the Pleistocene. Students study evidence—recorded in rocks and ice—that climate has varied through Earth’s history, and explore the factors that have contributed to these changes. They look at evidence that Earth’s climate is changing now and consider the degree to which human activity versus natural factors are contributing to this.

Chapter 7 Broadcast from the Future

Students use the knowledge they have gained during this course to make predictions about what Earth will be like in the year 2100. They communicate their predictions in a news broadcast from the future.

Content in EDC: Atmosphere and Climate, Revised | Unit 2 is organized into activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Overview
What’s the Story?. A Scientific Explorer Students read about Alexander Von Humboldt, an influential scientist born in the 18th century, who explored and documented plant, animal, and physiographic features in different regions of the world. They think about the importance of documenting scientific observations and about the benefits of travel.
Activity 1. Looking at Climate Data Students look at temperature and precipitation graphs for Arizona and New Hampshire over a >100-year period, and think about the relationship between year-to-year fluctuations in weather conditions and long-term climate trends. They obtain and analyze climate data from their local region and chosen travel destination, and think about how the differences are reflected in their landscapes.
Activity 2. Observing Landscapes Students compare and contrast photographs of the landscapes in Earth’s major biomes and relate their observations to differences in regional climate. They explore how plants and animals are adapted to thrive in certain climate conditions, and hypothesize about how these organisms might be affected if the climate changed. They obtain photographs of the landscape in their chosen travel destination and compare them to the various biomes.
Activity 2. Looking for Patterns in a World Climates Map Students study a world climates map, looking for patterns and thinking about the factors that influence the distribution of world climates.
Reading. Sharing the Warmth Students read about how latitude and general patterns of atmospheric circulation affect the regional climate distribution.
Activity 4. Comparing the Heat Capacity of Different Materials Students learn about the difference in heat capacity of land versus water. They think about how proximity to the ocean affects coastal and inland climates.
Activity 5. Interactions Between Ocean and Atmosphere Students compare climate data for inland and coastal communities, and speculate about the reasons for the differences.
Reading. Wind and Mountains Students read about the influence of prevailing winds, land features, and elevation on regional climates.
Address the Challenge. Travel Destination Presentation Students prepare a presentation that compares the climate in their local area and travel destination, and relates these differences to factors such as latitude, oceans, prevailing winds, elevation, and land features.
What’s the Story?. Washing Away Students read the story, which describes a community in Kivalina, Alaska, that is feeling the effects of global warming and wondering what the future holds for its families and their homes.
Reading. Following the Path of Light Energy Students use information in a reading to draw a diagram that shows what happens to the energy that is transmitted to Earth from the Sun. They also think about how the amount of light energy absorbed by Earth might vary from one region of Earth to another.
Activity 1. The Greenhouse Effect Students learn about the greenhouse effect and study data to compare Earth’s energy balance to that of Venus.
Activity 2. The Albedo Effect Students design and carry out an experiment to prove that light colored surfaces reflect more light energy than dark surfaces and develop hypotheses about the relative albedo of various Earth surface materials based on images of Earth from space.
Activity 3. Moving Carbon Around Students investigate in experiments and with molecular models how carbon atoms are transferred between rocks and the atmosphere.
Activity 4. Calling All Carbons Students explore the carbon cycle by analyzing information about processes by which carbon is transferred from one reservoir to another.
Reading. The Greenhouse Effect, the Albedo Effect, the Carbon Cycle, and Feedback Loops Students read about feedback loops and think about how negative and positive feedback loops affect Earth’s climate.
Address the Challenge. The future of Kivalina, Alaska. Students prepare for a community meeting to discuss the future of Kivalina, Alaska.
What’s the Story?. Journey to a Different Time Students read a story about a very warm point in Earth’s history when no polar ice caps existed and a very cold point in Earth’s history when ice covered much of North America. They think about what might have caused Earth’s climate to change so dramatically in the past and what might cause the climate to change now and in the future.
Activity 1. Looking for Clues to the Past Students practice looking for evidence of events that have happened in the past by looking for clues around the classroom
Reading. Evidence of Earth’s Past Students read about climate proxies—tools used by scientists to investigate Earth’s climate history. They summarize what they have learned and think about the importance of collecting climate proxy data from different locations around Earth.
Activity 2. Using Climate Proxies Students use simulated proxy data from sediment cores to determine past ocean temperatures.
Activity 3. Investigating How Orbital Changes Have Affected Past Climate Students use a model Earth and Sun to demonstrate the Milankovitch cycles and think about how these orbital cycles affect the intensity of Earth’s seasons and in turn the advance and retreat of ice sheets during the Pleistocene.
Reading. The Carbon Cycle, Cretaeous Breadfruit Trees, and the Long Slide to the Ice Age Students read about how plate tectonic movements occurring over very long periods of time have led to warm and cool periods in Earth’s history. They think about how climate change in the past is relevant to Earth’s future
Reading. How Fast Can the Climate Change? Students read about abrupt climate change events that have occurred in Earth’s history and the potential causes of these events.
Activity 4. What’s Happening Now and What’s Projected for the Future Students study the predictions of global climate models and relate them to observed changes in global temperature, sea-level rise, ice measurements, ocean acidification and precipitation.
Reading. Sorting Out Natural and Human-Induced Climate Change Students read about how scientists use their understanding of Earth’s climate history to assess whether climate change happening now is due to natural processes or human activities. They summarize evidence that human activities are contributing to the current warming trend.
Address the Challenge. Museum Exhibit Students prepare museum exhibits that explain the key concepts they studied in this chapter.
Career Spotlight. Palynologist
Task. Bogus or Believe It? Students assess various scenarios that predict the future impacts of continued global warming and decide whether they are fact or fiction.
Mid-Year Challenge. News story (live, video, blog, written) Students use the knowledge they have gained during this course to make predictions about what Earth will be like in the year 2100.

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