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Unit 3: Climate Change and Food Security

Compiled by Russanne Low, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, rusty_low@strategies.org, Rebecca Boger, Brooklyn College, bogercuny@gmail.com, and Amy E. Potter, Armstrong State University, amy.potter@armstrong.edu

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Students complete a self-study tutorial. Part 1 provides an overview of how the Earth's latitudinal climate zones are generated by the Earth system, and Part 2 provides a very short introduction to climate change by revisiting the carbon cycle and discussing how human activity has changed the flux rates of carbon from sequestered reservoirs below ground, and enriched the carbon in the atmosphere, contributing to anthropogenic greenhouse gas enrichment and climate warming. The tutorial includes exploration of an interactive activity, two short videos, and a reading assignment. In class, students are divided into 4 groups, and assigned to one of four Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario projections: A1, A2, B1, or B2. Students are asked to work independently or in pairs to generate a time-aware climate change Web map application using ArcGIS Online. Returning to the theme of cocoa production introduced in Unit 1, students identify climatic conditions conducive for cacao production around the world, especially West Africa where the majority of cacao is grown. Students then use a web application in ArcGIS Online to create a time aware map showing biomes in the Köppen Climate Classification System and determine how projected climate changes will impact the suitable production regions for cacao in West Africa.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships. MS-P4.2:

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. HS-P4.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Patterns: Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. MS-C1.4:

Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. MS-C2.2:

Structure and Function: Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem. HS-C6.1:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Global Climate Change: Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. HS-ESS3.D1:

Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience: Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species. HS-LS2.C2:

Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience: A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability. HS-LS2.C1:

Biodiversity and Humans: Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. HS-LS4.D1:

Performance Expectations

Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics: Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem. HS-LS2-6:

  1. This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

    • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
    • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
    • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
    • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
    • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

  2. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
    • Pedagogic Effectiveness
    • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
    • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

    For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Dec 15, 2016

Summary

This unit applies a flipped classroom model. Students complete a self-study tutorial prior to attending class. Students are then asked work independently or in pairs to generate a time-aware climate change Web map application using ArcGIS Online. Returning to the theme of cocoa production introduced in Unit 1, students identify climatic conditions conducive for cacao production around the world, especially West Africa where the majority of cacao is grown. Students then use a web application in ArcGIS Online to create a time aware map showing biomes in the Köppen Climate Classification System and determine how projected climate changes will impact the suitable production regions for cacao in West Africa. Using a jigsaw model, students collect into groups of 4, with a representative from each of the IPCC scenarios, and they compare the the impact of the 4 scenarios in specified cocoa production regions. At the end of the class they will be assigned to one of three regional areas for group work in Units 4-6.

Learning Goals

After completing this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe how the broad features of the global distribution of climate zones are the result of uneven heating of the Earth's surface by the Sun.
  2. Describe the climatic conditions required for cocoa production, and identify regions on the globe where these conditions are found, using the Köppen Climate Classification System.
  3. Create a time aware map application using ArcGIS Online to explore the projected impacts of climate change on cocoa production in Africa.
  4. Assess the past, present and future impact of cocoa production on West African landscapes through analysis of map data and its impact on local food security.

Context for Use

This unit builds on food security and Earth system science covered in the first two units. It can be taught in any course discussing food security or it can be modified to fit a variety of courses of in the sciences and social sciences. The activities included in this unit are appropriate for introductory-level college students or as a basis for more in-depth class discussions on food security for upper-level students.

This unit is designed for a 90 minute face-to-face class and is appropriate for lower division undergraduates who are enrolled in social science, environmental science, or ecology courses. The lesson as designed requires a prior introduction to the sociopolitical, cultural and economic aspects of global food security (see unit 1 as an example), and an introduction to Earth's climate zones and climate change (see Unit 2). The lesson assumes novice familiarity with ArcGIS Online, which was introduced in Unit 1 of this module. The ideal setting would be a computer lab where students can work independently or in pairs.

It can be modified for large lecture classrooms by having the instructor demonstrate the activity using a projector connected to the Internet during class, and having students complete the map activity as a homework assignment. In that case, the pre-class homework slide stack could be presented in a lecture setting.

Description and Teaching Materials

Required Teaching Materials:

  • computers and internet access for pairs of students
  • access to an ArcGIS Online organizational account or free trial account, (see https://www.arcgis.com/home/)

This flipped lesson requires internet access for individuals or pairs of students. It is best conducted in a computer lab. If a computer lab is unavailable and band width is insufficient for students to work on this assignment in a classroom, the instructor can demonstrate the steps as part of the introductory presentation and students can complete the assignment at home.

3.1 Pre-class Activity: Homework to be completed in preparation for this unit (Estimated time: 1 hour)


A. Self-guided tutorial, Understanding the Climate System.

Students complete a Unit 3: Pre class climate system tutorial (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 12.1MB Dec2 16) Introduction to the Climate System. Students can use the Unit 3 Homework Organizer (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 388kB Dec2 16) to prepare homework assignment for class.

Part 1 of the tutorial provides an overview of how the Earth's latitudinal climate zones are generated by the Earth system, and Part 2 provides a short introduction to climate change by revisiting the carbon cycle and discussing how human activity has changed the flux rates of carbon from sequestered reservoirs below ground, enriched the carbon in the atmosphere, and contributed to greenhouse gas enrichment and climate warming. The tutorial includes exploration of an interactive, two short videos, and a reading and writing assignment. Students will come to class with a short paragraph they have composed that describes how the Earth system interactions function to create the Earth's climate system on short (<10K) timescales and will have identified one aspect of global food security they see as being impacted in the future by a warming climate. This assignment can be collected as homework, or referred to by students in the introductory class discussion.

B. Reading Assignment

To obtain background understanding of traditional cocoa production to prepare for the in class mapping activity, students read pages 1-3; p. 13-14 (Abstract, Introduction, Different Disciplines, Different Explanations; Conclusion). Be prepared to discuss cocoa production in class, prepare one or two points you wish to contribute to the discussion.

Ruf, F. O. 2011 The myth of complex cocoa agroforests: The case of Ghana. Human Ecology 39:373-388.

3.2 Introductory Class Discussion (10 minutes total)


Discussion.
Use the homework slide stack as prompts as students volunteer information from their homework assignment.
(Estimated completion time: 10 minutes)

3.3 Map Activity: Climate Change and Cocoa Production in West Africa (75 minutes total)


Instructions for this activity are supplied in handout, Map Activity: Climate Change and Cocoa Production in W. Africa (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 235kB Dec2 16).

Students will create a time-aware map Web service showing biomes using the Koeppen Classification system, and determine what changes are projected that will impact the suitable production regions for cacao in W. Africa.

Part 1: Map Creation.

Students follow instructions on the Map Activity Sheet and complete Part 1. Ask students to look at the African Continent and identify and identify the changes in climate and biomes they see as they examine the changes that have taken place from 1900 to the present. Normally students are quite surprised at how much change has taken place over time: most think of climate change as something in store for the future. Next, have them focus in on West Africa, where cacao is produced. Students can work independently or in pairs depending on the number of computers you have available.
(Estimated completion time: 30 minutes)

Part 2: Map Analysis.

Ask or assign student teams one of the IPCC scenarios, and have them identify the changes in climate and biomes from the present to 2050 and 2100, under the projected scenario each was assigned. Students can continue to work independently or in pairs depending on the number of computers you have available.
(Estimated completion time: 30 minutes)

Jigsaw Discussions.

Have the students form IPCC scenario groups. Each group selects a a representative map for each of the IPCC scenarios. Using the jigsaw method, have the students rotate around and look at the maps in the other groups showing the results of the other IPCC scenarios. Have the students compare two scenarios in specified cocoa production regions. Ask them: Are there significant differences in the projected change in the region between each of the scenarios? Which scenario projects the most change? Which projects the least change?
(Estimated completion time: 10 minutes)

Reflection.

After the students finish the jigsaw activity, ask the students to write down their thoughts to the following question:

  • How should climate change be factored in as we attempt to improve global food security?

(Estimated completion time: 5 minutes)

Group Assignment.

Assign students to one of three areas: NYC, Nebraska, or Caribbean, so they can begin their background explorations as their pre-class activity for Unit 4. This can be done while the students complete their end of class reflection.
(Estimated completion time: 5 minutes)

Assessment

Students are asked to complete and submit a time-aware map service and quick reflection. The submitted map will enable assessment of ability to produce a map the cloud-based GIS tool, ArcGIS Online, and to conduct a visual or a simple quantitative analysis of data using spatial tools. A rubric is supplied to assist in evaluation of these skills Universal Rubric for Assignments Units 1-5 (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 40kB Dec1 16).

References and Resources

Climate Zones:

Cocoa Production:

Global:

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Smart Agriculture. [Link http://www.fao.org/climate-smart-agriculture/en/ 'FAO Website']
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program 2014. (2014) Regional Highlights from the Third National Climate Assessment. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Agriculture (good short overview for all). U.S. Hatfield, J., G. Takle, R. Grotjahn, P. Holden, R. C. Izaurralde, T. Mader, E. Marshall, and D. Liverman, 2014: Ch. 6: Agri­culture. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, J. M. Melillo, Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and G. W. Yohe, Eds., U.S. Global Change Research Program, 150-174. doi:10.7930/J02Z13FR. Downloaded from http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/agriculture

Regional:

Great Plains

Nebraska

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »