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Exploring the Link between Hurricanes and Climate using GCM Results
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/hurricanes/activities/28268.html

Cindy Shellito, SERC - On the Cutting Edge Collection

In this activity, students examine global climate model output and consider the potential impact of global warming on tropical cyclone initiation and evolution. As a follow-up, students read two short articles on the connection between hurricanes and global warming and discuss these articles in context of what they have learned from model output.

Activity takes two to three 50-minute lesson periods. Computer access is necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 11 Cross Cutting Concepts, 10 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Ocean as climate control, oceanic conveyor belt; abrupt changes in thermohaline circulation
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2b
Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c
Increased extreme weather events due to climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7c

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
Other materials addressing:
F) Working with models and simulations.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educator needs to cover a lot of topics (modeling, hurricanes etc.) before this activity can be done in a class.
  • Model is a black box to students. Students need to be introduced to modeling prior to doing this activity.
  • In order to make it easier to teach this lesson, educator should read some background information about how the models work and about hurricane formation.

About the Science

  • Great but complex activity that introduces students to climate models. Students work with data from a real and credible climate model. This model has been used to provide data for IPCC reports.
  • Reading assignment includes two relevant and brief journal articles.
  • Hurricanes are an excellent way to discuss climate and climate change because they are in the news often and students are familiar with them. Also they have a large impact on populations. The effect of climate on hurricanes is also a hot topic, so this activity allows students to examine cutting edge research.
  • Comment from scientist: Because the research is cutting edge, it is controversial and preliminary. Whether hurricane frequency and/or intensity has increased is subject to much debate, and hurricanes are not a clear indicator of climate change. It is important to emphasize this, but even so, it may be subject to criticisms of bias. For example, there are references to work by Kerry Emanuel and others, but there don't appear to be references to research by Chris Landsea, which would be good for balance. One of the reasons there is controversy is that we lack a complete historical data record. It wasn’t until satellites went up in the 1960s that we could get a complete global accounting of hurricanes without potentially missing some. It is probably good to mention this as well.

About the Pedagogy

  • Complex but pedagogically well-designed activity that is well-supported by the activity description and the student handout instructions.
  • Interpretation of modeling output, discussion of journal articles, presentations and written summaries offer a mix that engages students of different learning styles.
  • Activity can't just be tossed into any course - a lot of prerequisite instruction is needed.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This is a complete and well-presented activity. All the parts are there.
  • Thorough instructions for downloading the data.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS2-4: Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS3.D2:Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 11

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Stability and Change

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

HS-C3.2: Some systems can only be studied indirectly as they are too small, too large, too fast, or too slow to observe directly.

HS-C4.2:When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

HS-C4.3:Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales.

HS-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

HS-C5.4: Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 10

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Developing and Using Models, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.2:ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

HS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.

HS-P2.3:Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system

HS-P2.6:Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.

HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.

HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P7.2:Evaluate the claims, evidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments.

HS-P8.4: Evaluate the validity and reliability of and/or synthesize multiple claims, methods, and/or designs that appear in scientific and technical texts or media reports, verifying the data when possible.


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