Our Changing Climate: A Brand New Way to Study Climate Science

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 8:45 AM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
James A. Brey, AMS, Washington, DC; and C. M. Kauffman, K. A. Nugnes, I. W. Geer, R. S. Weinbeck, and E. W. Mills

The climate system has always, is currently, and will continue to change but recently many of these changes have been unprecedented. This is the stance taken in Our Changing Climate, the brand new ebook in the AMS Climate Studies course. The course was developed to raise students' climate literacy, a goal of the AMS Education Program. This introductory, undergraduate-level climate science course explains the underlying, fundamental concepts of Earth's climate system and also investigates the societal-challenges climate change presents.

Our Changing Climate is a unique offering from the AMS Education Program not only because it is the first textbook to be designed specifically for a digital format, but also because experts external to the program drafted essays for each chapter. Overall, the ebook has a greater focus on climate change issues including new chapters detailing climate analysis tools, human and ecosystem vulnerabilities to climate change, energy and geopolitical issues, and climate change denial. New findings from the IPCC AR5 report and the Third National Climate Assessment are also included. Our Changing Climate was released in August 2014.

AMS Climate Studies utilizes resources from respected organizations, such as the IPCC and U.S. Global Change Research Program, and emphasizes investigation of real-word and current NASA and NOAA data. For example, the concepts of vulnerability and adaptation are “brought to life” as students learn about how the low-lying nation of Bangladesh is responding to current and preparing for future sea level rise.

The AMS Education Program believes that all students should be climate literate, with a focus on those at minority-serving institutions (MSIs). With support from the National Science Foundation, AMS partnered with Second Nature, the organizing entity behind the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, to offer the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project. The Diversity Project begins with an expenses-paid 5-day course implementation workshop, which covers fundamental understandings within AMS Climate Studies and strategies for course offering. In the year following workshop attendance, faculty work within their MSI to implement the course. Participants are then invited to a second workshop at the AMS Annual Meeting to report back the results of their work. The Project has trained approximately 75 MSI faculty members, with the final course implementation workshop to be held in May 2015. The AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project follows the proven models of the AMS Weather Studies (2002-2007) and AMS Ocean Studies (2006-2008) Diversity Projects, which have impacted more than 200 MSI faculty members and 24,000 students.

As a whole, AMS undergraduate courses have exposed about 100,000 students to the geosciences, strengthening the pathway towards advanced study and careers. AMS Climate Studies, including the newly released Our Changing Climate ebook, is a key component of Education Program course offerings and is leading the transition of all materials to a more sustainable ebook format.