Climate Change Module
Scientists agree that the climate is changing and that human activities are a primary cause for this change through increased emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. There have been times in Earth's past that temperature and CO2 concentrations have been much higher than they currently are, so it is not just the actual temperature that is of concern to scientists, but the fact that the rate of change of temperature is unprecedented in the geologic record. We do not know how various factors will respond to such a rapid rate of change, and thus we anticipate that many species will not be able to adapt, leading to widespread extinction. In this module, students will explore how climate is changing from the recent record. They will then compare current patterns to pre-historic rates of change calculated from ice-core data and use their results to support whether or not human activity is likely to have influenced current climate change. Project EDDIE modules are designed with an A-B-C structure to make them flexible and adaptable to a range of student levels and course structures.
- To analyze global temperature data to see if Earth's average global temperatures are really increasing
- To analyze CO2 data to see if atmospheric levels are really increasing
- To correlate CO2 data with global temperature to see if there is a relationship
- To compare current trends with rates of change during pre-historic periods using ice core data
- To interpret what these results mean for understanding current climate change
- To learn basic shortcuts and graphing in Excel
Context for Use
This entire module can be completed in one 3 hour lab period or two 50 minute lecture periods for introductory or intermediate level students. If students have experience graphing in Excel, it is possible to complete Activities A and C within a single 70 minute class period, although there is not much time for discussion (this option excludes doing Activity B, which could be assigned for homework). One option is to have students complete as much as possible in a single class period, complete the rest for homework and to use the subsequent class period for discussion of their results.
This module has been used in a range of courses. For a large general education biology course that is primarily freshmen, the module was completed in the smaller laboratory sections and discussed during lecture. The module has been used in an Ecology course laboratory (all Activities) and in an Environmental Geology lecture (Activity A and B). The module was integrated into a summer science camp for middle school students. A simplified version of the module has been used for a single lecture period in Ecology, where the graphs are already made, printed out and distributed among the students. Module materials can be tailored to increase or decrease the background information depending on students' quantitative skills.
How Instructors Have Used This Module
This module was featured in a webinar, which is available in the references and resources section below. You can also browse My EDDIE Experience Instructor Stories from users, provided below.
Using the Project EDDIE Climate Change Module in Geology 1: Earth's Interior
Sarah Cadieux, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Sarah Cadieux, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute About this Course Geology 1: Earth's Interior Lecture and Lab Introductory Undergraduate Majors and Non-Majors 120 students in the lecture course 24 students in ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Applied Statistics
Jessica Oehrlein, Fitchburg State University
Jessie Oehrlein, Fitchburg State University About this Course Applied Statistics Lecture Course Introductory Undergraduate Non-Majors 25 students in the course Show Course Description Hide Course catalog: ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Climate Change
Kausik Ghosh, Vidyasagar University
Kausik Ghosh, Vidyasagar University About this Course Climate Change Lecture and Lab Graduate Majors 70 students in the course Show Course Description Hide This course is offered to the MSc. I SEM Geography ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in GEOL 103 - Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Jessica Domino, Alfred University
Jess Domino, Alfred University About this Course GEOL 103 - Earthquakes and Volcanoes Lecture and Lab Introductory Undergraduate Non-Majors 16 students in the course Show Course Description Hide This course ...
Using the Project EDDIE Climate Change Module in 'Introduction to Environmental Studies'
Melissa Hage, Emory University
Melissa Hage, Emory University About this Course Introduction to Environmental Studies Lecture and Lab Introductory Undergraduate Majors and Non-Majors 22 students in the course Show Course Goals Hide The two ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in BIOL 172L - Introduction to Biology II Lab
Alyssa MacDonald, University of Hawaii at Hilo
Alyssa MacDonald, University of Hawai'i Leeward Community College About this Course BIOL 172L - Introduction to Biology II Lab Laboratory Course Introductory Undergraduate Majors 10 students in the ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Using the Project EDDIE Sustainability Metrics Module in Geography
DR. SANGHAMITRA ADHYA, Kalyani Mahavidyalaya
DR. SANGHAMITRA ADHYA, Kalyani Mahavidyalaya About this Course Using the Project EDDIE Sustainability Metrics Module in Geography Lecture and Lab Upper Level Undergraduate Majors 224 students in the course Show ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Introduction To Biology Lab
Jonathan Stetler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Jonathan Stetler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute firstname.lastname@example.org About this Course Introduction To Biology Lab Laboratory Course Introductory Undergraduate Majors and Non-Majors ~60 and ~20 (2 sections) ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Quantifying Sustainability
Emilie Wiesner, Ithaca College
Emilie Wiesner, Ithaca College About this Course Quantifying Sustainability Lecture Course Introductory Undergraduate Non-Majors 25 students in the course Show Course Description HideStudents will learn how to ...
Using Project EDDIE modules in Meteorology/ Climatology
Laura Rosales-Lagarde, Nevada State College at Henderson About this Course Meteorology/ Climatology Lecture Course Introductory Undergraduate Majors and Non-Majors 17 and 6 students in the course Show Course ...
Description and Teaching Materials
Quick overview of the activities in this module
See the teaching materials files, provided below, for a step-by-step description for carrying out this module. A student handout, describing Activities A, B, and C, and instructor answer key are also provided.
- Activity A: Determine current rates of air temperature and CO2 change from modern datasets.
- Activity B: Explore whether temperature and CO2 concentrations are related.
- Activity C: Compare current rates to pre-historical rates of change using data from an ice core to investigate how climate has changed in the past.
Workflow of this module:
- Assign any pre-class readings
- Give students their handout when they arrive to class
- Instructor gives brief PowerPoint presentation with background material. Discussion of the readings can be integrated into this presentation or done before.
- Students can then work through the module activities.
- Climate Change Module - Instructor's Manual (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 107kB Feb3 20)
- Climate Change Module - Instructor's PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 6MB Feb3 20)
- Climate Change Module - Student Handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 178kB Apr26 22)
- Climate Change Module - Dataset (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 171kB Jun1 21)
This R code has been used in RStudio Cloud with non-R users to do a modified version of the Climate Change Module that just focuses on changes in CO2:
Modifications on this Activity from the Community
Teaching Notes and Tips
See the Instructor's Manual (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 107kB Feb3 20) and Instructor's PowerPoint for notes and tips for carrying out this exercise.
In Activity A, after the presentation and discussion of readings, students work to determine current rates of air temperature and CO2 change from modern datasets. In Activity B, students explore whether temperature and CO2 concentrations are related. In Activity C, students compare current rates to pre-historical rates of change using data from an ice core to investigate how climate has changed in the past.
References and Resources
Suggested pre-class readings
No readings are required for this exercise, but here are some that might be appropriate, depending upon course level and the instructor's goals.
- IPCC. 2013. Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/
- A. Seidl 2010. Early Spring: An ecology and her children wake to a warming world. 'Chapter 1 (Weather)' Penguin Random House.
- Barnola, J. M., et al. 1987. "Historical carbon dioxide record from the Vostok ice core." Nature 329: 408-414.
- View the May 20, 2021 Project EDDIE Webinar: Using Real Data to Teach Climate Change in the Era of Fake News, featuring how this module was used:
Click to view or download the webinar recording (MP4 Video 90.6MB May20 21).