This exercise allows you to explore the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) climate analysis data set. The objectives of the exercise are to introduce you to the types of data which scientists use to study climate, and how you can access climate information from over a century of climate data maintained in NOAA’s public domain computer servers. Understanding how to access this information is important to each of us in making informed decisions about the effects of climate change.
NOAA climate data can be accessed at climate.gov. When you access this page, you will see the NOAA Global Climate Dashboard. At the top of the dashboard are three aspects to climate models: Climate Change, Climate Variability, and Climate Projections. At the bottom of the dashboard are various types of data (temperature, carbon dioxide, sea level, etc.) which climatologists input into each model. By clicking on different types of models and data, you can access graphs which help you understand how the models work and why there is widespread agreement among scientists that Earth’s climate is changing.
Please type your answers in bold.
Part 1: Click on the Climate Change tab.
Click on Temperature, Carbon Dioxide and Arctic Sea Ice. Answer the following questions about changes in each of these data sets within the Climate Change model. (You will need to click on ‘learn more’ under each heading in order to access the complete dataset and analysis.
- a) How is the rate of global surface temperature change over the past 45 years different from that between 1880 – 2015?
- b) From the graph, in what two years has the rate of global surface temperature been highest?
- c) What is a temperature anomaly, and why is it used to study the rate of surface temperature change rather than direct surface temperature readings.
- d) What was the warmest year on record, and how much warmer was this year than the 20th century average?
- e) What was the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere in 1970? Give your answer in ppm (parts per million)
f) What was the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere in 2015?
- g) What causes the regular up-and-down pattern within each year of the carbon dioxide curve?
- h) Compare the change in carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere to the change in rate of global surface temperatures. Is there a correlation between the two? What is the basis of your answer?
Arctic Sea Ice
- h) From the graph, what was the Minimum Arctic Sea Ice Extent in 1980? (answer in millions of square kilometers)
- i) From the graph, what was the Minimum Arctic Sea Ice Extent in 2015? (answer in millions of square kilometers)
- j) Compare the change in minimum Arctic sea ice extent to changes in carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and to the change in rate of global surface temperatures. Is there a correlation between the three? What is the basis of your answer?
- k) What is the relationship between decreased arctic sea ice extent and warming of the oceans?
Part 2: Click on the Climate Projection Tab.
- a) From the graph, what is the greatest predicted temperature change (oF) from the 1971 – 1999 average?
- b) From the graph, what is the lowest predicted temperature change (oF) from the 1971 – 1999 average?
- c) What factors will influence the exact amount of warming throughout the 21st century?
- d) What are the differences in assumptions made between projection of the high-growth (red) model versus the low-growth (blue model).
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