Climate Model Learning Module

This activity was developed for the Teaching About Earth's Climate Using Data and Numerical Models workshop, held in October 2011.
Chris Sinton
University of Redlands
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This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.


The students will use one of the on-line climate models where they can explore the effects and sensitivity of different variables.

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This project will be used in a 200-level undergraduate course called Energy and the Environment. It consists of mix of majors and non-majors. It fulfills a non-lab science general education requirement.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

To reach the goal of having students understand numerical climate models, there must be a scaffolding of information and learning. Students must first understand some of the underlying physics of the earth's energy budget, such as the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law. The textbook used in this course, Wolfson's Energy Environment and Climate, initially introduces simple zero dimension energy balance models. Students can then be exposed to two-box models showing earth's surface and the atmosphere as the two boxes.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity will be done in the last quarter of the semester. Students will have already learned about convention fuel resources and the direct link to carbon dioxide emissions.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The overarching goal of this exercise is to have the students develop a basic understanding of how global climate models work and to know their value and limitations.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Some possible models to use for this activity include:

Determining whether students have met the goals

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