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Climate Change – Causes and Effects: Modelling future climate in the UK

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Minimum time required

50 minutes

Resources needed

Methodology & teacher’s notes

This is a full-lesson resource that serves as a companion to the Esri UK/Met Office Story Map “Modelling future climate in the UK”. Printable maps are supplied to allow for a version of these activities if individual student access to computers isn’t accessible, however given the nature of GIS, the full benefit will be gained from computer access.

Take students through the ‘Introduction’, ‘UK climate projections’ and ‘RCPs’ sections, pausing to focus a little more on the below:

  1. Help students to define the term ‘mitigation’ through discussion. The dictionary definition is ‘the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something’. Can students give a couple of examples of what climate mitigation might be?
  2. Study the ‘Global average surface temperature change’ graph, and pose the following questions:
    1. What temperatures are projected in 2100? 6 +1.0°C, RCP8.5 +4.1°C
    2. What is the uncertainty range* for each projection by 2100? 6 between +0.2 and +1.6°C, RCP8.5 between +2.8°C and +5.4°C
    3. Approximately which year do the different possibilities stop overlapping? 2060, until then both projections are possible no matter what we do to mitigate
    4. When does the historical line end and the projections start? What does this tell you about the reliability of the graph? 2005, which means the graph is about 15 years out of date although the projections haven’t changed significantly.

*It is very important for students to understand what is meant by scientific uncertainty and how this differs from the everyday definition of uncertainty. The latter is used by many to discredit climate science by assuming it means scientists don’t really know what is going on, when it fact, all it is referring to is statistical probabilities.

Use the responses to Q7 in the worksheet to form the basis of a consolidation discussion. Students are to justify those responses with evidence they have collected to answer the other questions. For instance, if they say that summer heatwaves in the London area were to become more intense especially under RCP 6.0, then they should justify that argument with figures (e.g. an average temperature increase between 1981-2010 and 2070-2099 of around 3.5°C).

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