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Topics Explored: Sun's Radiation, Earth's Atmosphere, Atmospheric Circulation, Climate, Seasons, El Niño and La Niña events

This case study explores the relationships between the Sun's radiation and the Earth's climate. Answer key included.

Case Study: Earth's Climate (Teacher & Student Edition)

  • ZIP file containing 2 PDF files 
    (1 Teacher Edition and 1 Student Edition)

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
    HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
    HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
    HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    HS-ESS2-4. Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    HS-ESS3-5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.



    AP® Environmental Science Learning Objectives:
    4.4 Describe the structure and composition of the Earth’s atmosphere.
    4.5 Explain how environmental factors can result in atmospheric circulation.
    4.7 Explain how the sun’s energy affects the Earth’s surface.
    4.8 Describe how the Earth’s geography affects weather and climate.
    4.9 Describe the environmental changes and effects that result from El Niño or La Niña events (El Niño–Southern Oscillation).

    AP® Environmental Science Practices:
    Practice 1: Explain environmental concepts, processes, and models presented in written format. 
    Practice 2: Analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes. 
    Practice 3: Analyze sources of information about environmental issues.  
    Practice 4: Analyze research studies that test environmental principles.  
    Practice 5: Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs.
    Practice 6: Apply quantitative methods to address environmental concepts.
    Practice 7: Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems.

    IB® Environmental Systems Learning Objectives:  
    2.2.1 List the significant abiotic (physical) factors of an ecosystem.
    2.2.2 Describe and evaluate methods for measuring at least three abiotic (physical) factors within an ecosystem.
    2.4.1 Define the term biome.
    2.4.2 Explain the distribution, structure and relative productivity of tropical rainforests, deserts, tundra and any other biome.

    AP® is a registered trademark registered by the College Board®. IB® is a trademark registered by the International Baccalaureate Organization®. This work/product/service has been developed independently from and is not endorsed by the College Board® or the International Baccalaureate Organization®. 

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