Initial Publication Date: October 31, 2015

Climate and the Biosphere: Lab Overviews

1. Climate, Weather, and Trees

In this lab, you are introduced to the relationship between climate and trees and well as the Vermont maple syrup industry, the case study for this module. You will consider the habitat and living conditions of a typical maple tree, and the ideal weather conditions for maple syrup production. You will graph, and analyze long-term climate data.

2. Climate and Earth's Energy Balance

In this lab you will build and examine a diagram of Earth's energy balance, discussing the inputs, transfers, and outputs of the system. You will also complete lab activities and simulations to demonstrate the greenhouse effect.

3. Climatology Basics: What Factors Affect Climate?

In this lab you will complete several demonstration labs; view interactive illustrations and videos; examine maps and diagrams of weather and climate patterns; and explore the physical factors that influence climate (latitude, altitude, proximity to water). You will also learn about the four levels of drivers that create weather and climate at various temporal and spatial scales (global, regional, and local).

4. Climate and Life Patterns (Biomes)

This lab is designed to help you learn about Earth's biomes and the intimate connection between those biomes and the climates that help to define. You will become a biome expert. You will use an interactive Google Earth globe to explore global climate patterns and characteristic biomes. After examining maps and diagrams of biomes and climate patterns, you will consider the threats that changing climate patterns could present to existing biomes.

5. Extreme Weather

you will read articles from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and develop short summaries of unusual weather patterns that have occurred in recent years. you will also use an interactive illustration and view graphs and data showing indications of climate change. You will also examine and discuss maps of changing global temperature and precipitation patterns.

6. Trees and Paleoclimate

in this lab you will view graphs of changing global, regional, and local temperatures from both proxy sources (e.g., tree rings; fossilized pollen) and instrumental records. You will then collect and analyze a simulated sediment core from a freshwater lake and view maps and animations that demonstrate how preferred habitats of tree species migrate in concert with climate change.

7. Future of the Forest: Climate Patterns and Life

You will return to the issue of the change in maple syrup production. Using your knowledge of the relationship between climate patterns and biomes, you and your team will predict how climate change will alter the maple syrup industry and use modeled temperature and precipitation data to select an ideal habitat range for sugar maple trees. You will then examine other plant suitability maps and explore how climate change is impacting all plant life and what that change means for ecosystems. You will conclude the module by selecting suitable trees for your home region.