Going Local with Global Warming


Do you think that Earth is warming? Explore “Piecing together the temperature puzzle” from NASA to learn how the temperature has changed since global instrumental temperature records began.

Watch the “In the balance” video from the Videos section of “Piecing together the temperature puzzle” (scroll down) to hear some of the implications of a warming world.

Read "Causes" from NASA's Global Climate Change website. As you read, note the specific human activities responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases and think of how you and your students may play a role in their increase. What daily or seasonal human activities are changing our natural greenhouse?

How has your opinion about the Earth warming changed and/or developed after exploring the resources above?

Climate change can take place slowly and may not be easily detectable from year to year. Native Americans throughout the United States have observed subtle changes in their surroundings, especially those related to climate and weather. Native peoples' intimacy with nature is such that they pick up on these changes in environmental conditions that are not seen by casual observers. Watch the video "Witnessing Environmental Changes" from PBS LearningMedia™, to see how the decline in trout, a valued food source, is traced to the scarcity of water running down from the mountains, a problem impacting many communities nationwide.

Phenology is the study of the timing of plant and animal life cycles, related to the onset of the seasons, as well as interannual variations in climate. In various parts of the world, some people have noticed phenological changes, such as plants flowering earlier in the year now than 30 years ago. An earlier springtime is indicative of a possible change in the climate.

Phenological observations in climate change research are important for understanding the impacts of climate change at local and regional spatial scales. Explore “Climate Wisconsin: Phenology and think about if you agree with Mrs. Bradley, who says, “keeping long term records is graphic and shows you the changes… if you didn’t have it written down you wouldn’t see it.”

For the first time in history, the majority of people worldwide reside in cities. What are some projected climate change impacts in major cities across our country? People residing in communities nationwide, regardless of size, can expect increased storms, drought and rising seas. Read the report "How will climate change affect cities? New look at vulnerable waterways for key U.S. cities." What water-related vulnerabilities exist for U.S. communities? Make note of the 12 major target cities and choose one closest to you to see what significant problems based on current carbon emission trends exist and what actions at the local level would be most effective in reducing, mitigating, or preventing the negative effects of water-related climate change.

While many Americans believe that climate change is something that might be happening, but in “other parts of the world” or on a “global scale”, there are increasing anecdotal accounts of how people’s lives in communities nationwide have been impacted by small, but critical changes in seasonality and temperature. For example, how can bee keepers from all over the United States help scientists understand climate change and its effects on many different ecosystems? Read "Honey Bees Turned Data Collectors Help Scientists Understand Climate Change" and click on "View video" on the right. This project, which relies almost entirely on small-scale backyard beekeepers, now includes more than 87 data collection sites in more than 20 states. Data from as far back as the 1920’s indicate that the timing of spring nectar flows have undergone extraordinary changes and pollinators could end up out of sync with the plant species that they depend on.

How can the resources from this section help you understand the regional impacts of climate change, and their causes, in the area you call home?

What specific impacts of climate change is your local or regional area experiencing?

Global Climate Change Modules

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