Teaching Notes

Example Output

Example Output
Sample graph of precipitation data from EOS Webster.
The final product of this chapter is a set of graphs that facilitate comparison of climate change predicted for various states. To the right is a sample graph of precipitation data prepared with Microsoft Excel.

Grade Level

This chapter is most appropriate for students in grades 10 to 12 or for undergraduate courses.

Learning Goals

After completing this chapter, students will be able to:

  • search for, request, and download data from EOS-EarthData;
  • manipulate data in a spreadsheet to produce graphs;
  • analyze graphs to interpret differences in predicted climate change;
  • compare multiple sets of time series data; and
  • gain familiarity with the vocabulary of climate research.


This chapter gives students an awareness that regional differences in climate change projections over the next century do exist and thus will likely require different mitigation strategies in response to these changes. Students also learn what climate changes are forecasted for their state and what actions their state has taken or is taking to address these changes.

The analysis tool used to explore these climate projections is Microsoft Excel and some familiarity with Excel is assumed. While the spreadsheet data manipulations required may be somewhat tedious, the Excel techniques used in this chapter, replacing data within a spreadsheet and averaging columns or rows of data, are commonly-used functions in business, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, science, engineering, and health care. Most students will need at least a rudimentary understanding of spreadsheet operations in whatever vocation they choose to pursue.

Background Information

Climate Change References
  • NASA's Earth Observatory has a multi-page Fact Sheet on Global Warming.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency maintains a comprehensive Climate Change site.
  • The Nature Conservancy Climate Wizard Site features climate modeling data in an interactive map viewer. Users can view and download data, maps, graphics, and other background information about climate models and scenarios from this website.

Instructional Strategies

This chapter uses scientific model data and students should understand the inherent limitations and uncertainties of computer models before working through the chapter. A brief discussion is provided in the Case Study page. Other resources are listed in the Background Information section of this page.

It may be advantageous to have students work in small groups with each group assigned a particular state or U.S. region. This would facilitate a greater coverage of the entire United States and students less familiar with the software used in the chapter could be teamed with more experienced computer users.

Learning Contexts

This activity can be used in any unit on climate change. It could also serve as an application level activity on using modeled scientific data to predict future conditions. Analyzing the variability in climate change among regions can help students understand global climate change on a smaller scale.

Science Standards

The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:

8ASI1.3 Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. The use of tools and techniques, including mathematics, will be guided by the question asked and the investigations students design. The use of computers for the collection, summary, and display of evidence is part of this standard. Students should be able to access, gather, store, retrieve, and organize data, using hardware and software designed for these purposes.

12ASI1.3 Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results.

12ASI2.3 Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data. New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science. The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.

Other Standards

Unifying Concepts and Processes—Change, constancy, and measurement

Time Required

Completion of this activity requires approximately four 45 minute class periods.

  1. Part 1: 45 minutes for introduction to EOS-WEBSTER and selection of data.
  2. Part 2: 45 minutes to download, decompress, and rename data for California and Minnesota.
  3. Part 3: 45 minutes to import data into spreadsheets, calculate and graph averages for these two states. Discuss questions.
  4. Additional analyses: 45 minutes to order data for any other state, analyze these data and compare to Minnesota and California. Discuss questions.

Other Resources

temperature change map Additional Climate Change Data

Climate change projections for the 21st century produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (2007) are also available from EOS-WEBSTER Climate Visualizations.

Climate Change Graphics

All the climate change graphics used in this chapter are available from the EOS-EarthData Teacher's Page. Also on this page are animated movies for temperature, solar radiation, and precipitation for the contiguous United States.