Effects of Climate Change on the American Southwest

Friday 2:10pm-2:30pm Ritchie Hall: 366


Alexandra Priewisch, Fresno City College


At the Rendezvous, I will introduce the topic with a PowerPoint presentation. Participants will then get a handout to work on. The activity will be concluded with a short discussion and summary of the results.


The activity consists of a powerpoint presentation which introduces the students to the topic. They will then work on handouts which engage them in analyzing various graphs related to climate data, such as summer drought from 1900-2012, forest and woodland mortality, trends in flood magnitude, and frost-free days from 1900-2010. The handouts include questions that help the students to interpret the data and develop an understanding of how the data is related to climate change. They are also prompted to apply their understanding and infer possible effects of this climate change on the Southwestern US. The outcomes of the activity are 1) students will be able to explain how the climate has changed over the last 110-112 year, and 2) students will be able to list and explain at least three effects of this climate change in the Southwestern US.


I use the activity as part of a lecture about climate change and also as part of a climate change laboratory. It is embedded in a powerpoint presentation that provides additional information on the role that carbon dioxide plays in climate change and different effects of drought in the Southwestern US. My target audience are college students.

Why It Works

The activity is particularly effective because the students explore different data sets which allow them to come to their own conclusions about climate change. Its innovative aspect is that it can be used for
both large and small classes. The activity can have multiple choice questions, which would be of advantage in a large class, or short answer questions, or both. The length can also be varied, depending on the classroom situation. The accompanying powerpoint presentation allows the addition of videos that add information to the topic, which is especially useful during a climate change laboratory. Last but not least, the activity allows introducing climate change in an animated, concise style and provides students with immediate results.