Instructor Materials: Overview of the Climate of Change Module
Summative Assessment: Student success in this module can be assessed through an exercise that involves labeling a diagram of climate system processes that might cause climate change and variability and describing the related human impacts and potential mitigations. Learn more about assessing student learning in this module.
Unit 1 Forecasting Climate Variability and Change: A Matter of Survival
In Unit 1, students engage in discussion regarding the topics of climate variability and climate change by first reading an article about the impacts of changes on human society and cultures in the past. Class discussion is facilitated by a gallery walk and focuses on examining the differences between climate change and climate variability on the different cultures, and the causes of climate change.
Unit 2 introduces students to the concept of short-term climate variability through an examination of atmospheric and oceanic data. In Case Study 2.1, students try to identify patterns in data depicting the cyclic changes in tropical Pacific climate associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation. This is appropriate for an in-class group activity. As supplemental activity that may be used for homework or a lab exercise, Case Study 2.2 provides students with data from the North Atlantic and guides them in identifying cyclic changes associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation.
Unit 2 Deciphering Short-Term Climate Variability
- Case Study 2.1 - Climate Variability in the Equatorial Pacific
- Case Study 2.2 - Climate Variability in the North Atlantic (supplemental)
Students examine the ENSO system as a pattern and analyze ocean surface maps in Unit 3. Case Study 3.1 asks students to predict the spatial parameters of La Niña based on data maps of El Niño and ENSO normal conditions. They then relate these patterns to weather conditions experienced by people living in the tropical Pacific. Case Study 3.2 leads students to build a timeline of ENSO events from a time series of global ocean SST maps. They then consider the predictability of this system and its potential interaction with other ocean surface oscillations.
Unit 3 Anomalous Behavior
- Case Study 3.1 - Predicting Patterns: What Does La Niña Look Like?
- Case Study 3.2 - Exploring Patterns: ENSO on the Global Stage (supplemental)
In Unit 4, students consider changes in the Greenland ice sheet and the uncertainty in predicting future changes. Case Study 4.1, appropriate for use as an in-class group activity, uses albedo data from different elevations on the ice sheet. Case Study 4.2 is a supplemental activity, appropriate for use as a lab or homework exercise, and focuses on area changes of several Greenland marine terminating outlet glaciers.
Unit 4 Slow and Steady?
- Case Study 4.1 - Reflecting on What Is Happening to Greenland's Ice
- Case Study 4.2 - Predicting Glacial Futures (supplemental)
Unit 5 leads students to explore our climate system firsthand by becoming part of the climate system in a role-playing game and examining glacial climate records. The students perform a climate model simulation, taking on themselves the "role" of a climate attribute in Case Study 5.1. After graphing long-term methane data, students compare this trend with those of other greenhouse gases and predict the impact of future atmospheric and human behavioral changes in Case Study 5.2.
Unit 5 systems@play
- Case Study 5.1 - Interactions: Climate's Tangled Web
- Case Study 5.2 - Interpretations: Reading the book of Earth (supplemental)
In Unit 6, students assess individual and national opinions on climate change and explore strategies that communities are employing to adapt to aspects of climate change that are already affecting them and may affect them in the future. Unit 6 is appropriate for use as a small-group or entire-class activity.
Unit 6Adapting to a Changing World
Making the Module Work
To adapt all or part of the Climate of Change module for your classroom you will also want to read through
- Instructor Stories, which detail how the Climate of Change module was adapted for use at three different institutions, as well as our guide to
- Adapting InTeGrate Modules and Courses for Your Classroom, which outlines how to effectively use InTeGrate modules and courses.