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Guided Data Exploration: Climate Copyright © 2016 Pearson Education Inc. C-1 Name Date Guided Data Exploration: Climate Introduction Since 1900, Earth has experienced a warming of the climate. In this activity, you will explore what factors cause Earth’s climate to change, how surface temperatures in different areas of the globe may change under different predicted warming scenarios, and how sea level surrounding various metropolitan areas in the United States may rise as a result of warming global temperatures. 1. Discuss: Various factors can influence the Earth’s climate. Before you begin to examine the degree of influence that a number of factors have on the Earth’s climate, brainstorm a list of the various human and natural factors that may cause Earth’s climate to change. Part 1: Climate Forcings A number of factors contribute to the warming of Earth’s climate by altering the energy balance of the climate system. These factors are called climate forcings because they “force” the climate to change. A positive forcing warms the climate, while a negative forcing cools it. Some forcings are anthropogenic, or caused by humans, while others are natural. Begin by opening the Climate Guided Data Exploration entitled “The Effects of a Changing Climate” and locating the first simulation entitled “Climate Forcings.” Examine the influence of individual climate forcings by checking the box for each forcing in order to determine whether it is positive or negative and how much it forces the climate to change. Forcings are measured as the estimated energy input to an area of Earth’s surface in watts per square meter (W/m2). The error bars indicate the degree of variation in the estimates and give a sense of their uncertainty. 2. Some people argue that solar radiation, rather than human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, has had a greater effect on the climate over the past century. In other words, they argue that solar radiation has been a greater positive climate forcing than CO2. Based on the graph, how do the forcings from CO2 and solar radiation compare and which actually is a greater positive climate forcing?Guided Data Exploration: Climate C-2 Copyright © 2016 Pearson Education Inc. 3. Using the simulation, complete the following sentence: - Predicted warming from human-caused forcings is about _______ times greater than predicted warming from natural forcings. 4. If you were given the task of deciding what to do to reduce overall warming, which one forcing would you focus your efforts on reducing in order to have the largest potential influence and why? 5. Discuss: Some of the human-caused forcings such as land-use changes, aerosols, and aerosol cloud effects actually cool the climate. Why don’t we simply increase these forcings in order to mitigate climate change and counterbalance the various positive forcings? Consider what you know about residence time, geographical distribution, and the potential environmental effects of these negative climate forcings. Part 2: Possible Impacts of a Warming Climate In order to examine some possible impacts of a warming climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of about 900 scientists who study projections for and potential impacts of climate change, created a number of climate change scenarios. Open the Climate Guided Data Exploration entitled “The Effects of a Changing Climate” and locate the second simulation entitled “Four Warming Scenarios for the Year 2100” to view some of these scenarios. Click on the buttons at the top of the map to examine the patterns of predicted surface temperature warming by the year 2100 based on four different scenarios. While the scenarios are based on a number of factors, each scenario shown here is determined by the average degrees of total global surface air temperature warming that it predicts will occur by the year 2100: 1.0°C, 1.8°C, 2.2°C, or 3.7°C. The predicted changes in air temperature for each scenario are in comparison to a baseline period of surface air temperatures from 1986–2005.Guided Data Exploration: Climate Copyright © 2016 Pearson Education Inc. C-3 6. Describe the general warming trends that are expected across the scenarios. For example, compare how warming is generally expected to occur by 2100 on the interior of the continents, the coasts of the continents, and the oceans. Note whether one area of the globe is expected to warm more than others regardless of the scenarios. 7. In the scenario where the global average surface temperature is expected to rise by an average of 2.2°C by 2100, approximately how much are the interiors of the continents expected to warm? °C 8. Examine the Arctic in the map that displays an average surface temperature increase of 3.7°C. How much more than the global average surface temperature change is this specific area predicted to warm in this scenario? °C 9. Discuss: In the previous questions, you examined the differences in global average surface temperature increase and the predicted increases for specific areas under different climate change scenarios. Based on the differences you observed, do the numbers describing the predicted global average surface temperature increase in each scenario (1.0°C, 1.8°C, 2.2°C, or 3.7°C) provide a good indicator of general warming trends across the globe? Why or why not? If you were a climate scientist and wanted to provide additional information about warming trends in each scenario to policymakers, what extra information would you choose to emphasize? Part 3: Predictions for Future Sea Level Rise In the previous section, you discovered that the Arctic is the geographical area that is always predicted to warm the most by 2100, regardless of the climate change scenario you examined. One effect of this is that ice currently covering the land in the Arctic will melt, releasing large amounts of freshwater into the ocean and causing sea levels to rise across the globe. In the following questions, you will examine how various


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