5.5 A Perfect Time to Teach and Share Information about Our Changing Climate

Friday, 12 June 2015: 11:30 AM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
James A. Brey, AMS, Washington, DC; and I. Geer, C. Kauffman, R. Weinbeck, and K. Nugnes

The mission of the AMS Education Program is to raise scientific, including climate literacy. Over the years, AMS broadcasters have assisted us in this important work. Broadcasters are a trusted source of science information for the public, both on and off camera, in spite of facing a variety of challenges in communicating accurate climate information. The Climate Matters Project, led by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, Climate Central, and WLTX meteorologist Jim Gandy, have allowed positive changes in climate change education on camera. At the same time, the AMS offers excellent opportunities to improve climate change education off camera. The AMS Education Program has developed the introductory AMS Climate Studies course for undergraduate students and the DataStreme Earth's Climate System (ECS) professional development graduate course for K-12 teachers. Both courses use a brand new climate science ebook from the AMS that investigates Earth's climate system, explores humans' impact on the climate system, and identifies actions needed in response to climate change. The unique role of broadcast meteorologists in the climate change discussion is highlighted in Chapter 14 of Our Changing Climate. Released in September 2014, Our Changing Climate is the result of a year's worth of intensive research and writing. Included are the latest in scientific understandings from reports such as IPCC AR5 and the Third National Climate Assessment. For example, trends from the Southeast U.S. including sea level rise, more frequent, longer, and more intense heat waves, and decreasing water availability, worsened by population growth and land-use change, are all discussed. Because climate science is multi-disciplinary, Our Changing Climate covers a breadth of topics – including the importance of understanding basic statistics and geospatial tools used to investigate Earth's climate system and examining the psychological and financial reasons behind climate change denial. Scientific literature from which chapter content was derived is cited at the conclusion of each chapter and meant to encourage additional exploration of climate science information. In addition, Topic In Depth sections appear throughout each chapter and lead to more extensive information related to various interesting topics. For example, the previously mentioned, Climate Matters Project, is highlighted as a Topic In Depth in Chapter 14.

DataStreme ECS is a free professional development course for in-service K-12 teachers, in which they gain considerable subject matter content and confidence in Earth science instruction. It is offered each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country in coordination with a team of AMS Education Program scientists and educators who develop instructional materials, provide logistical support to the LITs, and administer the project. The three-member LITs, typically composed of an AMS-trained teacher leader, college faculty member, and AMS certified broadcaster or federal operational scientist, mentor about 8 teachers per semester through the course. In some cases an emergency management official is invited to join the teachers. Broadcasters who serve on a LIT can earn 2 points for Professional Experience, which can be put towards becoming a CBM. More than 1300 teachers have completed DataStreme ECS.

AMS strongly encourages broadcast meteorologists to participate in AMS initiatives to raise the climate literacy of their viewers by promoting the local offering of AMS Climate Studies and/or becoming a member of a DataStreme ECS LIT. As Jon Nese stated at a recent conference, “local television weathercasters have an unrivaled opportunity to educate the public about climate change.” There's no better time than now!

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