Exploring Historical Temperature Records

created by Sarah Purkey, Oceanography (2012) with support from a NASA GCCE grant.


This module provides a hands-on learning experience where students will analyze century-long temperature time series collected at weather stations around the world. The objective of this module is for students to learn climate variability, analysis techniques, and to examine observational evidence of global warming. In addition, each student will specialize in a particular local climate and the climate change in that region.
Each student (or in small groups) will be given an excel spreadsheet with raw data of monthly mean temperature from a single location. The lab will be divided into three independent parts, allowing teachers to pick and choose, which sections they wish to cover when. An overview of the three labs is described below. Additional background information and updated data files are available to teachers in files on our coursesite folder. Contact hsclimat@uw.edu for access.

Download Lab: Historical Temperature Records Lab

Lab 1: Climate, Weather, and Seasons: The students will start by locating their station and making predictions about their region’s climate. They will find the mean monthly temperature for the region. Next they will look at the variability within the monthly mean. Each student can present their findings from their region and the class can evaluate regional differences. In this lab students practice calculating averages, minimums, maximums and standard deviations.

Lab 2: Local and Global Trends: In this lab students will calculate the yearly mean for their station and find temperature trends over different time periods. The class will pull their findings together to create a map of regional trends, which can be compared to the IPCC trend maps. The students can apply the analytical techniques used to find trends in the global monthly mean data.

Lab 3: Climate Model Predictions and Local Impacts: The students will be asked to research the predictions for their region and then think about the impacts these changes will have on the local communities. Post-lab assessment is attached.

Focus Questions

1. How does the climate and climate variability differ around the globe?
2. What are surface warming trends around the world and how are they calculated?
3. What are the regional temperature predictions in the future and how will these changes affect local communities?

Global Data: Observational

Global Monthly Means Data (1880-2006)

Station Data (1880-2006 by station #)
Email uwpcc@uw.edu for the observed global data from 18 different stations.

Global: Temperature Projections-GCM model output (2006-2099)

Email uwpcc@uw.edu for the global model projections from 18 different stations.

U.S. Data: Observational

Email uwpcc@uw.edu for the observed U.S. data from 35 different stations.

U.S.: Temperature Projections-GCM model output (2006-2099)

Email uwpcc@uw.edu for the U.S. model projections from 35 different stations.

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