The Climate Change MEL

The Climate Change MEL asks students to weigh the connections between evidence and alternative explanations about causes of climate change. Climate change is a critical environmental issue facing Earth and its inhabitants.

Below are links to resources that will help students use the Climate Change MEL and learn more about fundamental scientific principles related to climate and weather.


This article provides an provides an overview of the MEL diagram activities, using the Climate Change MEL as an example.

Beyond the Controversy front page
Beyond the Controversy (Acrobat (PDF) 667kB Jun4 18)

Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations

HS-ESS3-5: Earth and Human Activity

  • Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

HS-ESS3-4: Earth and Human Activity

  • Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

The Models

Model A: Climate change is caused by humans who are releasing gases into the atmosphere.
Model B: Climate change is caused by increasing amounts of energy released from the Sun.

Student Handouts

Lines of Evidence

Evidence #1: Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations have been rising for the past 50 years. Human activities have led to greater releases of greenhouse gases. Temperatures have also been rising during these past 50 years.
Evidence #2: Solar activity has decreased since 1970. Lower activity means that Earth has received less of the Sun's energy. But, Earth's temperature has continued to rise.
Evidence #3: Satellites are measuring more of Earth's energy being absorbed by greenhouse gases.
Evidence #4: Increases and decreases in global temperatures closely matched increases and decreases in solar activity before the industrial revolution.

Student Handouts

Other Resources

This Plausibility Ranking Task (PRT), which may be completed prior to using any MELs, helps students to understand the role of evidence in supporting or refuting models.

Digital Resources

NASA GCC: Vital Signs of the Planet
The mission of GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: Vital Signs of the Planet is to provide the public with accurate and timely news and information about Earth's changing climate, along with current data and visualizations, presented from the unique perspective of NASA, one of the world's leading climate research agencies.