Teach the Earth > Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection > Workshop 08 > Workshop Participants and Profiles > Cindy Shellito
Cindy Shellito Shellito
Earth Sciences - Asst. Professor of Meteorology
University of Northern Colorado
Campus Box 100
Ross Hall 3265
Greeley, CO 80639
970.351.4197 (fax)

Research and Teaching Interests
My background is somewhat interdisciplinary - I have BS and MS in Atmospheric Science, and a PhD in Earth Sciences, with a focus on Paleoclimatology. My research involves using global climate models to test hypotheses regarding climate change in Earth's deep past (specifically, I'm interested in the Paleocene-Eocene boundary and the early Eocene - 55-50 Ma).

I teach a range of classes for Meteorology and Earth Science majors at UNCO: General Meteorlogy, Mesoscale Meteorology, Climatology, Paleoclimatology (a history of Earth's climate, 4.6 Bya to the present!), Global Change (an online grad course for in-service K-12 teachers), and, every now and then, I teach a course entitled 'Earth Sciences in Popular Fiction' (we read novels and analyze earth science disaster films as a means of surveying the Earth System). In all of my classes, I try to use methods that encourage my students to think like scientists - to make observations or run experiments, examine data, and form conclusions.

Hurricanes and Climate Change in my courses
In every one of my courses, we discuss either hurricanes or climate change. In Climatology, Global Change, Popular Fiction, we discuss both. In Global Change and Popular Fiction, a discussion regarding the connection between hurricanes and climate change is usually incidental - it arises (always from the students) whenever we begin brainstorming regarding potential effects of global warming. I have not included this as part of a formal exercise.

In Climatology, I require my students to read two articles:

Emanuel, K., 2005. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Science, 436, p. 686-688.

Webster, P.J., et al., 2005. Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment. Science, 309, 1844-1846.

Both of these papers are fairly short - not overwhelming for students. In past years, I've had 2-3 students in the class become 'experts' on these papers, give very short presentations on the articles, then lead a discussion based on questions submitted by the rest of the class (each student is required to submit 2-3 what I call 'productive' questions on each article). We would cover other interesting topics in a similar format, with 2-3 students becoming an 'expert' on each topic.

Workshop Goals
(1) This year, I'm not requiring students in my Climatology course to lead discussions of papers, as there are too many students in the class. But I would still like them to read and discuss these (or perhaps other) papers on this topic. I would like to design an activity this week that will 1) encourage students to read the papers, 2) involve them in analyzing data or evaluating methods, 3) promote discussion among them regarding how much we really know about this topic. I plan on doing this activity before Thanksgiving, so my primary goal in this workshop is to nail this down.

(2) I'd like to formalize the introduction to hurricanes and climate change in my other courses (including General Meteorology) and develop an activity that can be used in a large (~70 student) lecture hall class. I'm looking for ideas here! On occasion, during discussion of climate change I've brought in the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' - to point out how *bad* the science is in that film. That draws students in immediately, as most of them have seen it, and leads to a very interesting discussion about the implausibility of a high-latitude 'hurricane' that can bring sub-freezing air down from the stratosphere. I'd like to find a way to make this more effective - or use something different altogether.