EarthLabs > Climate and the Biosphere > Lab 5: Extreme Weather

Extreme Weather

Introduction

Wild weather stories are everywhere! Floods, droughts, tornadoes, heat waves, hurricanes, and blizzards. What's behind this extreme weather? Are these weather events within the range of normal climate? Will these patterns persist and are they a sign that the long-term climate is changing? What implications will this have for life? These are questions that many scientists and citizens are asking.

In this Lab, you will develop an understanding of climate change and how it is different from climate variability. You will read articles and access data, maps, and graphs of trends. You will view several short video clips and learn about and compare climate models. You will see how climate impacts life and life impacts climate in both short and long timescales.

After completing this Lab, you should be able to:
  • define and describe the evidence of climate change;
  • describe "extreme" weather events and define climate variability; and
  • investigate climate models and predictions for future climate and weather patterns, especially temperature changes and explain the concept of "anomaly."

Keeping Track of What You Learn

In these pages, you'll find three kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you focused on key concepts. They allow you to check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
  • Discuss questions are intended to get you talking with your neighbor. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation. There is no right answer to these questions; just something to ponder.
Your teacher will let you know which questions you should answer and turn in.