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Global Climate Change: Cycle B

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1). Global temperature change is a gradual and natural process - human activity may have accelerated global change for all systems. Global temperature change is a cyclic phenomenon.

2). The primary causes of the human-induced component of warming are the increased amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing and agriculture, etc. that lead to an increase in the greenhouse effect.

3). An increase in global temperatures can in turn cause other changes, including a rising sea level and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation. These changes may increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and tornados. Other consequences include higher or lower agricultural yields, glacial retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors. Warming is expected to affect the number and magnitude of these events.

4). CO2 excess can be compensated for by an increase in algae, thus increasing the amount of CO2 locked in the ocean floor.


Scenario: For decades the debate was raging: "the planet is warming," "no it isn't." The issue became highly politicized due to the inherent costs in mitigating suspected causes of warming. And when the evidence indicated that the planet was indeed warming, the debate turned to whether or not the warming was part of a natural cycle or human-induced.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report titled: "Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers." The report synthesizes scientific understanding of global warming and makes predictions based on the use of state-of-the art climate models. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is the most comprehensive assessment of scientific knowledge on climate change since 2007 when the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was released. It was released in four parts between September 2013 and November 2014.

The IPCC report states that total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.


Author: Bob Myers, IGES
(703) 312-0823



Date: 7/30/2011


Scenario Images

Max Temperature: 1895-2100 - Time Series Animation
U.S. Max Temperature: 1895-2100 - Time Series Animation

Click here to watch the movie

This movie was created from the model output results of one of the two of the most frequently cited climate simulation models - that developed by the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. Click here to view the model output results created using model results from the Canadian Center for Climate Modelling. Note: Each movie is approximately 9.0 megabytes in size and may take a long time to load, please be patient.



  • Geography
    Geography for Life: National Geography Standards, 1994
      Geography studies the relationships between people, places, and environments by mapping information about them into a spatial context. The geographically informed person knows and understands:
      • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
      • How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth’s surface
      The identities and lives of individuals and people are rooted in particular places and in those human constructs called regions. The geographically informed person knows and understands:
      • The physical and human characteristics of places
      The physical environment is modified by human activities, largely as a consequence of the ways in which human societies value and use Earth’s natural resources, and human activities are also influenced by Earth’s physical features and processes. The geographically informed person knows and understands:
      • How human actions modify the physical environment

Team Assignment
<Event Team Study

This cycle you and your Event Team will build on the sphere to sphere interactions you identified last cycle to synthesize them into causal chains or causal matrices. You will use the resources listed under Readings, discuss your ideas in the event team discussion space, and then submit your team's work to ESSEA for a grade.



  • Read about the scenario.
  • Review the Team Event Study Rubric.
  • Serve as a "Sphere Expert" to your Event Team.
  • Read your teammates' summaries about the other individual sphere effects.
  • Identify intersecting and overlapping effects in your event team discussion space. Refer to An Example of an ESS Analysis reading if you would like to review causal relationships.
Upload to ESSEA your team's most accurate analysis of the Earth System interactions with reasoning and support and complete the team rubric.
Deadline: Sunday, December 2 2018 11:59 PM (Eastern Time)
Upload Assignments

Energy: A Balancing Act (Cycle B)
This PBL module was developed as part of the series Investigating the Climate System. The series includes five modules: Clouds, Energy, Precipitation, Weather, and Winds. While these materials were developed under one series title, they were designed so that each module could be used independently. For advanced middle school and high school.
Difficulty: intermediate

Exploring the Environment: Global Climate Change (Cycle B)
Create an Earth system science analysis to predict the effects of increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide on the yield of hard red winter wheat in Kansas. For Grades 5-12.
Difficulty: intermediate

Climate Change in the Encyclopedia of Earth (Cycle B)
The Collection is anchored by an electronic version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Nobel Prize-winning reports. It also includes articles by climate experts, biographies of individuals who have made important contributions to climate science and policy, a timeline of key events in the history of climate science and policy, a climate glossary, and much more. Scientists, educators, environmental professionals and concerned citizens should find the Collection to be an invaluable resource.

Drivers of 20th Century Climate Change (Cycle B)
From the American Museum of Natural History: "Observations show that substantial climate changes have also occurred during the 20th century, including increases in global mean temperature, decreases in the extent of snow in the Northern Hemisphere, rising sea levels, and the melting of glaciers around the world."

NOAA Global Climate Change Site (Cycle B)
Website of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) - the world's largest active arcive of weather and climate data. The site includes numerous reports and resources, including access to long-term weather and climate data.

US Global Change Research Information Office (Cycle B)
The US Global Change Research Information Office (GCRIO) provides access to data and information on climate change research, adaptation/mitigation strategies and technologies, and global change-related educational resources on behalf of the various US Federal Agencies that are involved in the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

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