Identifying Global Patterns and Connections with the 2007 GLOBE Earth System Maps/Poster

Learning Objectives

This activity will help students to:

Identify global patterns and connections in environmental data.
Understand Earth as an integrated system of components and processes.

Standards Addressed

S.8.B.3.2 - Identify evidence of change to infer and explain the ways different variables may affect change in natural or human-made systems.

Supplies/Materials/Articles Needed

I have attached a version of an exercise I have used with students and teachers with the same maps.  Extension activities connect the Earth System Poster to external web sites (e.g., NASA, NOAA, NSIDC, and SERC) and can be found in the attached PDF file.

The poster can be ordered online or printed for free in various sizes from the GLOBE website:

The GLOBE website has supporting videos to compliment each Earth system which may serve as a great visualization to wrap up the exercise with students:

Preparation Time Needed

None, beyond printing out the required maps and student handout (provided here).  Students do not need an introduction to the content - they can learn about the patterns and connections first before a teacher dives in to what these physical data are and what they represent.

Class Time Required

The map reading and follow-up questions may take two one-hour periods.  The extension questions at the end can be completed outside of class to free up additional in-class time.

Activity Description

The GLOBE program has created activities to accompany the GLOBE Earth System Poster "Exploring Connections in Year 2007" to have students identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the poster.  Images displaying global environmental data (insolation, surface temperature, cloud fraction, precipitation, aerosols, and the biosphere) through the course of 2007 are compared in order to understand how the Earth works as a system.

This activity will help students develop an understanding of Earth as a set of closely coupled systems.  Students will make connections between environmental data to see the interplay among the many processes that take place on varying spatial and chronological scales.

The processes that comprise the global environment are interconnected.  Understanding how these processes operate on a global basis is to understand the Earth as a system.  Understanding Earth as a system – Earth System Science – requires a qualitative and quantitative exploration of the connections among all parts of the system.

Earth system science focuses on the processes taking place in the atmosphere, oceans, fresh water bodies, ice, soils, and vegetation growing on the land surface.  It involves making connections between the soil and atmosphere, plus energy from the Sun, and the gases and particles entering the atmosphere and oceans from space or from the layers of molten and solid rock beneath Earth’s surface.  Many of these processes involve life, so Earth system science makes connections between these physical processes and the places on Earth where organisms live.