Climate Change and Ecological Impact

Activities

Climate Change and the Arctic Ecosystem

Many scientists today are discussing climate change and asking questions about how climate change is affecting different geographic regions of the Earth. In this activity you will learn about the arctic ecosystem. How is climate change affecting the arctic ecosystem? How is this change in the arctic ecosystem impacting polar bear populations? In this activity you will analyze maps of arctic sea ice, temperature graphs, and polar bear population data to answer these questions about the impact of climate change on the arctic ecosystem.

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Climate Change and Biomes

How does climate influence natural habitats (biomes)? How might climate change affect the distribution of biomes? Can biomes affect climate? To answer these questions, graphs, temperature and precipitation maps, and climate zone maps are provided for you to compare to biome maps.

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Bird Migration and Climate Change

How does climate change affect bird migration? Are spring migration dates changing? Are birds migrating farther or shorter distances? To answer these questions you will look at climate change maps, migration maps, isotherm (temperature) maps, bird migration data, and websites to see if there are variations in bird migration.

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Case Study: Climate Change and the Arctic Ecosystem

The northern polar region (Arctic) consists of the Arctic Ocean surrounded by land, whereas the southern polar region, the Antarctic, is an ice-covered continent surrounded by ocean. The arctic ecosystem is a fragile ecosystem. The short growing season and the low diversity of living organisms make the arctic ecosystem vulnerable to global warming and climate change. In this case study you will learn about how global warming and climate change may be affecting the arctic ecosystem. Part I consists of a series of questions that will help you to clarify what you currently know and think about the impact of global warming and climate change on the arctic ecosystem. Part II involves a case study of the impact of global warming and climate change on the arctic ecosystem. Reading this case study will provide you with the actual scientific data and information often used as evidence of the impact of global warming on the arctic ecosystem. The case study will add to what you already know about the problem of global warming and the questions in this section will help you think about and analyze the data and evidence. Part III will promote your reflection on your initial ideas and thinking about the impact of global warming and climate change on the arctic ecosystem and allow you to develop answers to problems and questions concerning the arctic ecosystem.

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This work was supported by the National Science Foundation through the Geoscience Education program under grant number GEO-0606922. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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