Past Century’s Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

Temperatures are rising faster today than they have at any point since at least the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. The finding is based on a global reconstruction of temperature records from ice cores, fossils, ocean sediments, and other sources.

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General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Describe the temperature fluctuation that has occurred in the past 11,000 years.
  • What are the various sources of data scientists have tapped in to in order to reconstruct this temperature record?
  • What are scientists reporting as the cause of the warming trend?
  • Will the current warming trend continue, or will temperatures begin to cool? Explain why/why not.
  • Should humans be concerned about the rising temperature? What might be some environmental consequences if the planet continues to warm?
  • What might be some of the impacts of warming temperatures you may witness where you live?
  • Can humans take any actions to stop the warming? Why/why not?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6)
  • Big Idea 2. Earth is 4.6 billion years old. (2.1)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.1, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8)
  • Big Idea 9. Human significantly alter the Earth. (9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.8)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Earth System (1)
  • The Atmosphere (10)
  • The Biosphere (17)
  • The Nature of Science (22, 23, 24)

Compiled March 10, 2013, by L. Guertin

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