Abrupt Climate Change

Abrupt Climate Change


In this lesson, you will be introduced to some recent ideas about abrupt climate change. Until a few years ago, it was believed that earth's climate changed gradually. But results from ice cores and other geologic records of past temperature changes indicate that this is not always the case and that abrupt climate changes may be the norm rather than the exception.


Begin your study of abrupt climate change by reading these two articles:

As you are reading, think about your answers to these questions and record them on your Abrupt Climate Change student sheet:

  • What is abrupt climate change?
  • Do you think that human activities can play a role in climate change?

Go to Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises. Read the Executive Summary section, pages 1-17, and Introduction, pages 19-28.

Answer these questions on your student sheet and be prepared to discuss the answers with your classmates:

  • What are the issues discussed in this report?
  • What are some of the new findings about climate change discussed in this report?
  • Do these new findings represent a change in the way scientists think about climate change?

Now go to What is Paleoclimatology? Read the article and answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • How do scientists study climate?
  • Name the four methods listed in the article. Discuss the procedures used and the types of data each method provides. Also discuss how they contribute to our understanding of climate change.
    • Satellites
    • Instrumental Records
    • Historical Records
    • Proxy Data

Knowledge Check

Read the article called Climate Change Research Draws Attention of Top National Panel. Answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • Why did scientists travel to New Zealand?
  • What conclusions did they draw?
  • Do they completely understand what is going on yet? Why? Why not?

This esheet is a part of the Abrupt Climate Change lesson.

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