InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Climate of Change > Instructor Materials: Module Overview
InTeGrate's Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Instructor Materials: Overview of the Climate Change Module

Module Goal: Understand that climate impacts human societies and that the climate system has interacting components, complicated by feedbacks, uncertainties, and human behavioral decisions.

Summative Assessment: Student success in this module can be assessed through an exercise that involves labeling a diagram of climate system processes that might cause climate change and variability and describing the related human impacts and potential mitigations. Learn more about assessing student learning in this module.

Unit 1 Forecasting Climate Variability and Change: A Matter of Survival

In Unit 1, students engage in discussion regarding the topics of climate variability and climate change by first reading an article about the impacts of changes on human society and cultures in the past. Class discussion is facilitated by a gallery walk and focuses on examining the differences between climate change and climate variability on the different cultures, and the causes of climate change.

Unit 2 Deciphering Short-Term Climate Variability

Unit 2 introduces students to the concept of short-term climate variability through an examination of atmospheric and oceanic data. In Case Study 2.1, students try to identify patterns in data depicting the cyclic changes in tropical Pacific climate associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation. This is appropriate for an in-class group activity. As supplemental activity that may be used for homework or a lab exercise, Case Study 2.2 provides students with data from the North Atlantic and guides them in identifying cyclic changes associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Unit 3 Anomalous Behavior

Students examine the ENSO system as a pattern and analyze ocean surface maps in Unit 3. Case Study 3.1 asks students to predict the spatial parameters of La Niña based on data maps of El Niño and ENSO normal conditions. They then relate these patterns to weather conditions experienced by people living in the tropical Pacific. Case Study 3.2 leads students to build a timeline of ENSO events from a time series of global ocean SST maps. They then consider the predictability of this system and its potential interaction with other ocean surface oscillations.

Unit 4 Slow and Steady?

In Unit 4, students consider changes in the Greenland ice sheet and the uncertainty in predicting future changes. Case Study 4.1, appropriate for use as an in-class group activity, uses albedo data from different elevations on the ice sheet. Case Study 4.2 is a supplemental activity, appropriate for use as a lab or homework exercise, and focuses on area changes of several Greenland marine terminating outlet glaciers.

Unit 5 systems@play

Unit 5 leads students to explore our climate system firsthand by becoming part of the climate system in a role-playing game and examining glacial climate records. The students perform a climate model simulation, taking on themselves the "role" of a climate attribute in Case Study 5.1. After graphing long-term methane data, students compare this trend with those of other greenhouse gases and predict the impact of future atmospheric and human behavioral changes in Case Study 5.2.

Unit 6Adapting to a Changing World

In Unit 6, students assess individual and national opinions on climate change and explore strategies that communities are employing to adapt to aspects of climate change that are already affecting them and may affect them in the future. Unit 6 is appropriate for use as a small-group or entire-class activity.

Making the Module Work

To adapt all or part of the Climate of Change module for your classroom you will also want to read through


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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »