This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Students analyze the global temperature record from 1867 to the present. Long-term trends and shorter-term fluctuations are both evaluated. The data is examined for evidence of the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate forcing mechanisms on the global surface temperature variability
- Natural climate variability (volcanoes, El Nino);
- Climate trends;
- Climate predictability;
- Regional climate variations.
- Teach students how to describe and interpret graphical information.
- Explore the significance of global climate change patterns to a student's local region.
- Introduce students to the difficulties encountered in trying to extrapolate recent temperature trends into the future, and the need for models to make reasoned predictions of temperature change.
Context for Use
This activity can be used as a homework assignment or lab activity in an introductory geoscience course with climate change content. Instructors can also use the global average temperature data and graphs for interactive lecture or other graphical analysis activities.
All material available at Globally-Averaged Temperature Lab Included are:
- Data in tab delimited format;
- Lab instructions and questions;
- Link to how to describe graphs;
- Link to how to write-up lab reports of this type;
- Images of:
- 2001 annual temperature anomaly relative to 1951 to 1980 mean;
- 1991 annual temperature anomaly relative to 1951 to 1980 mean;
- Regional trends in temperature for 1910-1945, 1946-1975, 1976-2000, and 1901-2000.
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources
- The Globally-Averaged Temperature Lab provides good documentation for references and additional reading.
Other relevant links include:
The graph below created by Robert MacKay can be useful when discussing global temperatures and global change.