How Will Climate Change Affect a Great Lakes State?
To make climate change relevant to students, they need examples of changes that are occurring or are expected in areas and enterprises near them. If it doesn’t snow, what happens to winter recreation? If it doesn’t rain, what happens to production of corn and dairy products? If the water levels change, will fish be able to find places to spawn? This lesson uses examples of climate change from one Great Lakes state, Ohio, to determine local relevance of climate change. When students have completed this activity, they will recognize that global climate change will have consequences for the environment and economy of individual states, and be able to give examples of state issues and the consequences of global climate change.
Visualizing Changes in the Great Lakes
Whenever people talk about the future, they form a mental image of what things will be like. They think about themselves and the things they know about, and in their imagination build a new picture of what they can expect. As we consider the impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes, there are a number of ways of visualizing those changes. In this activity, students will construct a web of things that may increase or decrease as a result of a changing climate. Constructing a concept map will enable students to list and explain many potential impacts of climate change and discuss various interpretations of the possible impacts of climate change.
What factors impact ice coverage on the Great Lakes?
What impacts do you think ice on the Great Lakes might have on the surrounding area? Ice actually has a considerable impact. Shipping is shut down for a part of the year. Fish spawning can be impacted. Shoreline structures can be damaged. Even the climate itself is impacted by the ice overage. After students have recorded their own perceptions of ice coverage of the great lake and then compared them to actual data, they will be asked to develop an investigation that will test factors that they believe influence ice coverage on the Great Lakes.
Global and Great Lakes Climate Change
In this investigation, groups of students will graph data reflecting temperature anomalies over a short period in the recorded climate history of the world or in part of the Great Lakes region. Using only their own data, they will predict how their actual temperature anomaly trend might continue. That is, with limited data, what do they conclude about the future? As all student groups assemble and observe the trend of the 130-year data set, they may conclude that having a larger data set offers more confidence in predictions. Students will learn to identify a trend in a set of graphic data, evaluate and discuss the difficulties inherent in interpreting and forecasting long- and short-term trends, and analyze data, draw conclusions about whether temperature anomalies are evidence of global warming, and defend their conclusions.
How do Greenhouse Gases Affect Heat Absorption?
Students build a model and simulate a portion of the greenhouse system using carbon dioxide, learning about the components of the greenhouse effect and the effect of carbon dioxide on the absorption of heat in the atmosphere.
Snowmaking: Great Lakes Style
Students living near the Great Lakes often feel the chill of lake-effect snowstorms. Students who have been introduced to weather basics can become familiar with the lakes’ effect on winter storms through this mapping exercise. This activity involving map interpretation skills compliments a weather and climate unit.
How do the Great Lakes Modify the Growing Season?
Using agricultural product and frost maps and an infrared satellite image, students develop a hypothesis about the effect of the lakes on growing seasons and then create a model to test the hypothesis.
What happens to heat energy reaching the Great Lakes?
Even as far back as the “log cabin days,” people knew that water absorbs a great deal of heat energy and can in turn release this heat. Pioneers would prevent foods from freezing on cold nights by placing a large container of water in the room. Can you think of why this might work? Conduct an investigation to explore how bodies of water can affect the surrounding areas. Learn how soil and water differ in their ability to absorb and release heat energy and how this difference in heat absorbed or released affects the atmosphere immediately above the land and immediately above the water.
How is Coastal Temperature Influenced by the Great Lakes and the Ocean?
The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate. Use a combination of laboratory investigation, map study, and graphing to learn how large bodies of water can serve as a heat source or sink at different times and how proximity to water moderates climate along the coast.
- describe how soil and water differ in their ability to absorb and release heat energy and
- describe how this difference in heat absorbed or released affects the atmosphere immediately above the land and the water
How Fast Can a Shoreline Change?
Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline consists of wetlands, low bluffs, and gently sloping shore in the western one-third of the state and glacial till and soft shale bluffs in the eastern two-thirds of the state. The rate of shore erosion is affected by the kind of land and rock materials and the use of protective structures. Use map reading skills to recognize some shoreline features on aerial photos, observe changes in a shoreline over time, and observe the effects of shoreline devices on rates of erosion.