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2012 Annual Progress Report...

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SyracuseCoE in the Classroom
on Climate Change

•  2 Minutes On... — A SyracuseCoE Video Clip Series
•  Lesson Plans & More
•  Books — SyracuseCoE Staff Picks
•  Online Resources
•  Teacher Best Practices

Why Teach Climate Change?

Most scientists agree: human-induced warming of Earth's atmosphere is real. The consequences of this worldwide phenomenon will increasingly influence every facet of human life, from access to resources to shifts in national labor markets. To lessen the impacts of climate change, we must look to both short-term and long-term strategies such as conservation, the development of energy efficient technologies and renewable energy, and the adoption of smart growth development principles. Future generations must be prepared to adapt to local and global challenges presented by climate change — and it starts with education.

Educator Resources


2 Minutes On... — The Meteorological Tower at SyracuseCoE 


Lesson Plans & More


Climate Change Indicators in the United States Slideshow — US EPA. Click here to view the full report.

Alliance for Climate Action (Grades 9-12) — ACE's mission is to educate high school students on the science behind climate change and inspire them  to take action to curb global warming. Find lesson plans, videos, and more on the ACE website.


NCSE-NASA Climate Change Curriculum Modules (Universities) — The NCSE-NASA Curriculum for Interdisciplinary Climate Change Education (NNICCE) team is developing a robust curricular package for a general education course on climate change that universities across the country can readily adopt and adapt.

Global Warming: Early Warning Signs (Grades 9-12) — Climate Change Curriculum from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Toolkit (Grades 9-12) — The toolkit is one component of Freshwater Future’s Great Lakes Community Climate Program, and was developed as a resource to help community groups develop a climate informed perspective on their own work and some approaches to help them bring that knowledge to issues their towns and cities may be addressing. The toolkit may be useful for class activities.

Lesson Plans & Activities

College Lesson Plan Resources

College Environmental Education - This site, provided by the Air and Waste Management Association, offers a list of environmnetal conferences, exhibitions, scholarships, councils  and more.

2004 Communicating Air Quality Conference - This conference, conducted by STAPPA, ALAPCO, and the EPA provides numerous professional and academic presentations on various topics from air quality, environmental justice and fire.


High School Lesson Plan Resources

The Effects of Global Warming in Alaska (Grades 6-12) — The first step for students in solving the problem of global warming is to develop a greater understanding of the complex changes at hand.

Global Warming Wheel Card (Grades 7-12) — What's your footprint and what can you do? Creating this spinning wheel card is an interactive way to study household carbon footprints.

Climate Change — An introduction to the science and impacts of climate change from the USDA Forest Service. (Includes four activities.)

Where Land, Air, and Water Meet (Grades 6-8) —This lesson from the US Geological Survey Explores the effect of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. (Includes activity to demonstrate parts per million concept: just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there having an impact.)

Global Climate Change and Sea Level Rise (Grades 6-8) - In this activity, students will practice the steps involved in a scientific investigation as they learn why ice formations on land (and not those on water) will cause a rise in sea level upon melting. This is a discovery lesson in ice and water density and displacement of water by ice floating on the surface as it relates to global climate change.

Ocean Currents and Sea Surface Temperature (Grades 6-8) - This activity allows students to access sea surface temperature and wind speed data from a NASA site. Students have the opportunity to plot data, compare data, and draw conclusions about surface current and sea surface temperature in a way that increases understanding of the issue and its relation to global climate change.

The Fact of Global Warming (Grades 5-8) and (9-12) — Equipped with an informative article, discussion questions, lesson activities, and a global warming quiz, this teaching activity brought to you by The Why Flies touches upon the many facets concerning the global issue of climate change.

From Grid to Home (Grades 6-12) — This is an idea for a one-period classroom activity designed to have students analyze energy use, cost, and source patterns from household to regional scales and relate these patterns to CO2 emissions. This idea was generated at the Teaching Energy Workshop.

Energy Use in the Americas (Grades 9-12) - Provided by National Geographic, this lesson plan involves students investigate the relationship between energy consumption, population, and carbon emissions.  They research carbon emissions data of various countries.


Elementary and Middle School Lesson Plan Resources

Ozone - The Good (Ozone), The Bad (Ozone) and The Ugly (Smog) (Grades 3-6) - This lesson plan, provided by the Air and Waste Mangement Association, suggests three activities to teach students where ozone is found in our atmosphere, how clorofluorocarbons (CFCs) destoy ozone, and the effects of smog.  The activties involve using play dough to buidl an atmospheric model; toothpicks and balls to represent moecules; and a jar coated in petroleum jelly and a match to demonstrate smog.

A Bird's Eye View (Grades K-5) - This Air Quality lesson, provided by the Air and Waste Mangement Association,  shows how to construct a "flying bird" to learn about air pollution.

Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands (Grades 5-8) — A toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators from the United States Global Change Research Program.

Time & Cycles (Grades 5-8) — An activity on dendrochronology, or tree ring dating, which can be used to track changes in climate. (U.S. Geological Survey).



How Much Fuel Does it Take to Power a Lightbulb for a Year? — An infographic from Good and Column Five

Online Videos & Flash

• Please note:  All videos linked from Teachers' Domain can be accessed for free upon registration.

Alaska Native Teens Help Researchers (Grades 6-12) — In this video clip, hear from students who are learning to use both Native and Western perspectives of nature to better understand global warming and its consequences.

Global Warming Threatens World Water Supply (Grades 9-12) — This 4-minute video explains that as glaciers disappear, consequences of water scarcity will likely include drought and political instability between nations.

Arctic Climate Perspectives (Grades 6-9) — This 5-minute video, adapted from material provided by the ECHO partners, shows the changes now happening in Barrow, Alaska, due to global warming.

Native Student Filmmakers Focus on Climate Change (Grades 6-12) — This video segment features Native student filmmakers as well as Elders talking about climate change.

Inuit Observations of Climate Change (Grades 6-12) — Changes in the land, sea, and animals are readily apparent to the residents of Sachs Harbour—many of whom hunt, trap, and fish—because of their long-standing and intimate connection with their ecosystem. In this 6-minute video, scientists from a climate change study project interview the residents and record their observations.

How the Arctic Ecosystem Might Change (Grades 6-12) — This 2-minute video explains that as global warming continues and sea ice disappears from the Arctic Ocean, new species from warmer, more southern oceans will eventually replace those species unable to adapt to the changing conditions.

Global Warming: Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect (Grades 6-12) — This video segment adapted from NOVA/FRONTLINE provides a generally accepted explanation by illustrating the heat absorbing role carbon dioxide plays in our atmosphere.

Earth System: Ice and Global Warming (Grades 6-12) — This 3-minute video segment adapted from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center details how global warming may already be responsible for a significant reduction in glacial ice, which may in turn have significant consequences for the planet.

Antarctic Ice: Sea Level Change — In this 3-minute video segment adapted from NOVA, learn what might happen to the global sea level if atmospheric warming precipitated the collapse of Antarctica's West Sheet. (Registration to Teachers' Domain is FREE)

Climate Change Wildlife & Wildlands (Grades 7-12) —  A full 12 minute, high definition, engaging and highly informative video on climate change science and impacts on wildlife and their habitat in U.S.

Hippo Works (Grades K-5) — "Eco friendly Edutainment": Animated cartoons and games about climate change and mass extinction.   

Zero Footprint (Grades 3-8) — Youth carbon footprint calculator

The American Energy Spectrum (Grades 9-12) — A look at where America gets and uses (or wastes) its energy. (Flash)

The Power of the Smart Grid (Grades 9-12) — Potential energy consumption and carbon emissions reduction from smart grid deployment. (Flash)

Worldmapper (Grades 9-12, Professional) — Worldmapper is a collection of nearly 700 world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.

Games & Websites for Kids

Light it Right! (Grades K-3) — A game from PBS Kids that emphasizes the importance of conserving energy.

EIA Energy Kids (grades K-12) — energy basics, and dozens of games and science experiments

Posters / Graphics

Cap and Trade Infographic (Grades 9-12) — A graphic from WellHome that breaks down the concept of cap and trade.

National Geographic Multinedia (Grades 3-12) - Use photography in the classroom! National Geographic allows you to search photos, videos and more according to your topic and grade level!  Brief photo and video explanations that can be discussed in your classroom!

Disappearing Lake: The Aral Sea Fades Away -   This National Geographic aerial photo shows how from 2006 (bottom) to 2009, Central Asia's vast Aral Sea dramatically retreated, with its eastern section losing about 80 percent of its water in just four years.

Online Resources for Teachers

Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, E-Learning (CAMEL) (Professional) — a free, comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-media resource for educators to enable them to effectively teach about climate change and allowing them to create and share curricular resources.

Climate Literacy Guide — "The Essential Principles of Climate Science" presents important information for individuals and communities to understand Earth's climate, impacts of climate change, and approaches for adapting and mitigating change.

Skeptical Arguments and What Science Says (Grades 9-12, Professional) — busts skeptic arguments of climate change deniers

Introduction to Greenhouse Gases (Grades 9-12, Professional) — A description of each type of greenhouse gas from the National Climatic Data Center.

Natural Inquirer (Grades 5-7) — This journal, the Natural Inquirer, was created so that scientists can share their research with middle school students. Each monograph tells you about scientific research conducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service. Check out their climate change monographs below. (Lesson plans included.)

Climate Change Edition - In this edition of the Natural Inquirer students will learn how scientists are studying climate change, and about the effect that climate change may have on animals, plants, and forests.

Climate Change — It's a Gas! (Grades 5-7) — It's a Gas explores the exchange of gases between the soil and atmosphere in tropical forests.

Climate Change — Balancing Act (Grades 5-7) — Balancing Act explores the relationship between urban trees and the carbon cycle.

Climate Change — Where in the World is Carbon Dioxide (Grades 5-7) —  Where in the World is Carbon Dioxide explores how rising levels of carbon dioxide could impact United States forest.

Climate Change — Beetles Are Supercool! (Grades 5-7) — Beetles are Supercool examines the life cycle of the mountain pine beetle and how climate change would influence this life cycle.

Bioenergy (Grades 5-7) — Biogas explores ways that bioenergy contributes to our energy future.

Science Daily  (Grades 9-12, Professional) - This journal, Science Daily provides concise, up-to-date articles on scientific news and research.

Less Summer Acrtic Sea Cover Means Colder, Snowier Winters in Central Europe (February 1, 2012) - This article describes how having less Arctic sea ice cover in the summer changes air pressure sones in the Artic atmosphere impacting Europe's winter weather.

Adirondack Lakes in North Easter US Lose Ice Cover as Climate Warms: Most Pristine Lake Marks Biggest Change (May 7 , 2012) - This article discusses how shorter periods of winter ice cover in the Adirondacks High Peaks demonstrate that not even wilderness areas are immune to climate change.

Arctic Ice Melt is Setting Stage for Severe Winters (June 6, 2012) -This article discusses how, due to the complexities of our climate system, climate change affects not only our summers but our winters as well.

US Experienced Second Warmest May, Warmed Spring on Record, NOAA Reports (June 7, 2012) - This article describes spring 2012 as well as June 2011-May 2012 climate highlights of various US regions and provides a US NOAA map of May 2012 Statewide Temperature Ranks.

Expansion of Forests in the Arctic Could Result in the Release of Carbon Dioxide (June 17, 2012)  - This article discusses how a warmer climate and expanding tree growth n the Arctic tundra may stimulate the decomposition of stored oragnic material, releasing carbon dioxide, and exacerbating climate change.

Ancient Warming Greened Antarctica, Study Finds (June 17, 2012) - This article researchers who studied sediment core samples taken from beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in Greenland found there to have been much higher summer temperatures and precipaption levels 15-20 million years ago.

May 2012 Global Temperatures Second Warmest on Record (June 18, 2012) - This article provides a list of global climate anomolies in May 2012 in Europe, Asia, northern Africa, most of North America and southern Greenland.

Greater Los Angeles to Heat Up an Average 4 to 5 Degrees by Mid-Century (June 21, 2012) - This article discusses a very sophicisticated recent climate study of the Los Angeles area which details, on a small scale, how much regional L.A. temperatures are likely to increase, and how global warming is an issue that should be investiagted and acted up on at the local level.

Drought Monitor Shows Record-Breaking Expanse of Drought Across United States (July 5, 2012) - According to officials from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, approximately 55% of the contiguous 48 states are in moderate drought or worse with concerning pockets of severe drought. State-by-state drought maps are also available.

Extreme Heat Raises Climate Change Questions, Concerns (July 5, 2012) - ­ The recent heat wave baking much of the country has prompted many people to ask: Is this due to climate change?  There are concerns of how extreme heat has an effect on eir quality and human health.

Arctic Warming Linked to Combination of Reduced Sea Ice and Global Atmospheric Warming (July 6, 2012) - The combination of melting sea ice and global atmospheric warming are contributing to the high rate of warming in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing up to four times faster than the global average, a new University of Melbourne study has shown.

Glacier Break Creates Ice Island Twice the Size of Manhattan (July 17, 2012) - ­ An ice island twice the size of Manhattan has broken off from Greenland's Petermann Glacier, according to researchers at the University of Delaware and the Canadian Ice Service.

Global CO2 (July 19, 2012) - Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) -- the main cause of global warming -- increased by 3% last year, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011.

U.S. Experiences Warm and Dry June; Drought Expands to 56% of Lower 48 (July 20, 2012) - ­ The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 71.2°F, 2.0°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 14th warmest June on record. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month broke or tied over 170 all-time temperature records in cities across America.

Rise in Temperatures and CO2 (July 23, 2012) - The greatest climate change the world has seen in the last 100,000 years was the transition from the ice age to the warm interglacial period. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric CO2 follow each other closely in terms of time.

Climate Change Linked to Ozone Loss: May Result in More Skin Cancer (July 26, 2012) - For decades, scientists have known that the effects of global climate change could have a potentially devastating impact across the globe, but Harvard researchers say there is now evidence that it may also have a dramatic impact on public health.

Chronic 2000-04 Drought, worst in 800 Years, May Be the 'New Normal' (July 29, 2012) - The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the "new normal" for most of the coming century.

July 2012 Marked Hottest Month on Record for Contiguous U.S.;Drought Expands to Cover Nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48 (August 8, 2012) - ­ According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation.

Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming, Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Says (August 20, 2012) - New scientific analysis strengthens the view that record-breaking summer heat, crop-withering drought and other extreme weather events in recent years do, indeed, result from human activity and global warming, Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina, Ph.D., said at a conference in Philadelphia on August 20.

Climate Change will have Profound Effects on Northeast U.S. Forests, Report Says (August 15, 2012) - A new report by U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzes decades of research and concludes that the climate of the Northeast has changed and is likely to change more.

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Lowest Extent Ever Recorded (August 27, 2012) - ­ The blanket of sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean melted to its lowest extent ever recorded since satellites began measuring it in 1979, according to the University of Colorado Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Glacial Thinning has Sharply Accelerated at Major South American Ice Fields (September 5, 2012) - For the past four decades scientists have monitored the ebbs and flows of the icefields in the southernmost stretch of South America's vast Andes Mountains, detecting an overall loss of ice as the climate warms. A new study, however, finds that the rate of glacier thinning has increased by about half over the last dozen years in the Southern Patagonian Icefield, compared to the 30 years prior to 2000.

Most Coral Reefs Are at Risk Unless Climate Change Is Drastically Limited, Study Shows (September 16, 2012) - Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and human-made systems. Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching events.

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Record Highs on Northeast Continental Shelf (September 18, 2012) - ­ During the first six months of 2012, sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem were the highest ever recorded, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Smallest Extent in Satellite Era (September 19, 2012) - ­ The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broken a new record low on Sept. 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported.

Melting Arctic Ice Cap at Record (September 24, 2012) - ­ Think of a poor hamster on a spinning wheel, caught up by momentum and unable to stop until it's overwhelmed, sent tumbling, crashing out of control inside.

Venice Lagoon Research Indicates Rapid Climate Change in Coastal Regions (September 28, 2012) - Research undertaken by the University of Southampton and its associates in Venice has revealed that the sea surface temperature (SST) in coastal regions is rising as much as ten times faster than the global average of 0.13 degrees per decade.

Glaciers Cracking in the Presence of Carbon Dioide (October 10, 2012) - The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt.

Four-Degrees Briefing for the World Bank: The Risks of a Future Without Climate Policy (Nov. 19, 2012) - Humankind's emissions of greenhouse gases are breaking new records every year. Hence we're on a path towards 4-degree global warming probably as soon as by the end of this century.

Sea Levels Rising Faster than IPCC Projections (Nov. 27, 2012) ­ - Sea levels are rising 60 per cent faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) central projections, new research suggests.

Human-Caused Climate Change Signal Emerge from the Noise (Nov. 29, 2012) - ­ By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities.

Record High for Global Carbon Emissions (Dec. 2, 2012) ­ Global carbon dioxide (CO2) - emissions are set to rise again in 2012, reaching a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes -- according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Northeast U.S. Sees Second Driest November in More than a Century (Dec. 5, 2012) - ­ Even though Hurricane Sandy helped create wet start to the month for several states, November 2012 went into the record books as the second-driest November since 1895 in the Northeast. With an average of 1.04 inches or precipitation, the region received only 27 percent of its normal level.

Arctic Continues to Break Records in 2012 (Dec. 6, 2012) - ­ The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012 -- among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released December 6.

Extreme Climate Predicted in Eastern U.S.: Storms, Heat Waves with Global Warming (Dec. 17, 2012) - ­ From extreme drought to super storms, many wonder what the future holds for the climate of the eastern United States. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, does away with the guessing.

Study Shows Rapid Warming on the West Anarctic Ise Sheet (Dec. 23, 2012) -  ­ In a discovery that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study finds that the western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

Political Action the Biggest Swing Factor in Meeting Climate Targets (Jan. 2, 2013) - ­ The new study, published January 2 in the journal Nature, examined the probability of keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above preindustrial levels under varying levels of climate policy stringency, and thus mitigation costs.

2012 Was Warmest and Second Most Extreme Year On Record for the Contiguous U.S. (Jan. 8, 2013) - According to NOAA scientists, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn.

New York Times - (Grades 9-12) As a popular new source, this provides information on what is being reported on climate change in mainstream media.

Weather Extremes Leave Parts of the U.S. Grid Buckling (July 25, 2012) - This article discusses how it is not only naturual landscpaes that are being affected by climate change but modern city landscapes as well.  Subways, highways, and runways are all examples of civarious infrastructure affected by warming.  Cities may have to adjust accordingly.