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Are the temperatures that the class measured warmer, cooler, or about the same as the long-term average? If a scientist reported that your state was warmer last month than the same month a year ago, would you consider this to be evidence for climate change? Why or why not?
WEATHER AND CLIMATE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? 6 Imagine that almost every summer for the past decade has been hotter than usual. Could this be a sign of climate change? Yes or no? Part 3: Understanding National Temperature Trends 1.Hand out a copy of “Temperatures in the Contiguous 48 States, 1901 to 2011.” Tell students that this long-term temperature graph was created using average temperature values from 1901 to 2011 collected from thousands of weather stations across the United States, as well as from satellite data. Scientists use long-term temperature data (along with other climate indicators such as rainfall, snow, storms, etc.) to understand climate patterns at regional and global levels. 2.Discuss what is meant by “temperature anomaly” and “baseline.”3.Ask students to observe the patterns of the red and blue temperature bars, and answer the following questions: Which decades were the coolest? Which decades were the warmest? 4.Tell students that seven of the top 10 warmest years ever recorded in the United States have occurred since 1990. Explain that between 1901 and 2011, some years were warmer than average and some years were cooler, but that over the span of 100 years, we can see a distinct trend toward warmer temperatures in the past few decades. Ask students, based on their knowledge of weather and climate, if this trend could be a sign of climate change.