Lasting Impact

Background Information

The climate system responds to changes in radiative forcing very slowly, over centuries. As a result, we have already committed to future warming due to past emissions, and our actions now will impact the global climate for thousands of years.

Suggested Activities

  1. Carbon Sources and Sinks
  2. Dissolved Gases in Water
  3. Dinosaur Breath
  4. Effects of Solar Radiation on Land and Sea
  5. Making Convection Currents
  6. Ocean Absorption Lab

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Depict/describe air-sea fluxes that cause oceans to take up carbon dioxide
  • Describe the role of water vapor in the climate system
  • Explain the “memory” of climate system (look at future temperature graph if we instantly turn off all anthropogenic CO2)
  • Explain the role of the oceans in lagged climatic response to changes in radiative forcing

Applicable Standards


Earth and Space Science

  • E.8.1 Using the science themes, explain and predict changes in major features of land, water, and atmospheric systems
  • E.8.3 Using the science themes during the process of investigation, describe climate, weather, ocean currents, soil movements and changes in the forces acting on the earth
  • E.8.5 Analyze the geologic and life history of the earth, including change over time, using various forms of scientific evidence
  • E.8.6 Describe through investigations the use of the earth’s resources by humans in both past and current cultures, particularly how changes in the resources used for the past 100 years are the basis for efforts to conserve and recycle renewable and non-renewable resources
  • E.12.2 Analyze* the geochemical and physical cycles of the earth and use them to describe* movements of matter

Physical Science

  • D.8.8 Describe and investigate the properties of light, heat, gravity, radio waves, magnetic fields, electrical fields, and sound waves as they interact with material objects in common situations

Environmental Education

Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems

  • EE B.12.3—Evaluate personal investigations and those of others, critiquing procedures, results, and sources of data and suggest improvements to the investigation

Questioning and Analysis

  • EE A 8.3—Use techniques such as modeling and simulating to organize information gathered in their investigations

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