Minda Berbeco's picture

Predicting the Future: Using the IPCC to Talk about Modeling

Students today are more tech-savvy than ever before.  Many teachers are taking advantage of this fact, bringing iPads and other technologies into the classroom. But why not bring in the predictive powers of technology to model the future of our planet?

Computer models are a central part of the IPCC report, and help us make predictions for the future. The figure below (SPM.8 in the report) aptly illustrates how powerful computer models can be.

Abridged Caption: Maps of CMIP5 multi-model mean results for the scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2081–2100 of (a) annual mean surface temperature change, (b) average percent change in annual mean precipitation, (c) Northern Hemisphere September sea ice extent and (d) change in ocean surface pH. Changes in panels (a), (b) and (d) are shown relative to 1986–2005.

To explore computer modeling with your students, check out these resources vetted by CLEAN (scientist and educator approved!). Students can play with computer models and see how scientists use them to predict the future of our planet.