Science Challenges

California Climate Lesson

Unit Overview: Students are immersed into the dynamic climate of California, as an example of a region that includes an array of environments: fertile plains, barren deserts, coastal and inland mountain ranges, and coastal cliffs underlain by unstable tectonics all moderated by a maritime climate. Using My NASA Data, NEO, and Earth Observatory coupled with hands-on modeling, students will explore how a variable such as El Nino can affect so many other variables of this dynamic region such as wildfires, mudslides, and drought.

California Climate and the Atmosphere
In this lesson, students will explore California climate and factors that are leading to changes within this climate system. Students will begin by exploring California climate and the state’s topography. Next, students will investigate coastal versus inland climate. Finally, students will use My NASA Data to explore the effects of El Nino/La Nina on two locations found at the same latitude. (zip, 1.9 MB)

California Climate and the Biosphere
As a sampling into the anthropogenic and natural biosphere of California, students will investigate aspects of change in the biosphere of the Central Valley. Analyzing data over both space and time, they will begin to tie together some of the causes and effects of a variable and changing climate. The valley serves as a model environment that includes riverine, wetland, rural-agricultural, and urban regimes all with high water-dependencies and susceptibility to drought. (zip, 393 KB)

California Climate and the Hydrosphere
As a glance into a dynamic hydrosphere, students will investigate aspects of change in the California hydrosphere. Working with models and analyzing data over time, they will begin to tie together some of the causes and effects of both a variable and changing climate. The region serves as a model environment that includes alpine, maritime, rural-agricultural, and urban regimes. (zip, 359 KB)

California Climate and the Lithosphere
As an understanding of the lithosphere and research in the field of geology are multi-faceted, this set of activities seeks to expose students to three of those facets using Southern California as the region of study. Working in teams of specialists, students will explore many different data types and reports to investigate the relationships between land form origins and hazard events that alter those land forms. Specifically, they will work as scientists to describe connections between the regional geology, the Southern California wildfires of 2003 and the mudslides of 2005. (zip, 1.8 MB)

 

Updated December 2011