175 Introducing AMS Climate Studies with Hyperlocal Weather Data at San Antonio College

Monday, 23 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
John Strybos, Alamo Colleges–San Antonio College, Live Oak, Texas

San Antonio College (SAC), part of the Alamo Community Colleges District, plans to introduce a climate science class to cover AMS Climate Studies course material with a focus on real local weather data. The college has recently identified online students and Dual Credit students as potential teaching formats that will help to successfully introduce the course into the San Antonio College curriculum. This paper will discuss initiatives to effectively implement the AMS Climate Studies program through elements of the course applicable to the greater San Antonio area, as well as tools to help students get access to hyperlocal weather data. Alamo Colleges understands the importance to ensure students are educated on climate science and its complexities. After experiencing a very strong El Niño year and with La Niña approaching, weather changes and extreme conditions will continue. The region has been experiencing extreme drought conditions for several years. San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer level has significantly dropped, triggering drought restrictions and water rationing. This year, El Niño intensified expected annual rainfalls causing extreme flash floods in the city during May and June. The proposed climate science course will uniquely prepare students to understand weather data and the evidence of climate change impacting San Antonio at a local level. The course will combine AMS Climate Studies content focusing on introducing the basics of Essential Climate Variables and climate system observations, understanding climate principles and other local applicable concepts such as energy and radiation, and relating the critical importance of water and oceans in the climate systems – particularly El Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon. Lastly, the course intent is to prepare students to enter the conversation on mitigation and adaptation by concluding natural and human influences on climate variations, as well as strategies to address climate change challenges. The climate science class will introduce real world weather data, so the students will be able to see the weather patterns occurring at a local level and the impact of climate change. In preparation for implementing the program, Alamo Colleges plans to provide students with real-time San Antonio weather data by connecting current and new weather stations into one online application. Weather stations will be located at each of the five Alamo Community Colleges around the City of San Antonio, giving students the unique opportunity to access hyperlocal weather data. The online application will document current and past weather conditions, and students will be encouraged to use this data for class projects and additional undergraduate research. As supplement course material, students will have access to SAC’s community centers and online information about Alamo Colleges’ sustainability projects. The Scobee Education Center, a space science education facility, provides interactive learning experiences on weather concepts applicable to the course. The Eco Centro is an education and outreach community center focused on sustainable solutions that hosts events and provides information on environmentally sustainable practices. Finally, student will have access to real life mitigation and adaptation strategies through Alamo College’s sustainability website information on district-wide energy efficiency, water savings and recycling projects. This plan to successfully implement the climate science class in the curriculum will be presented in the discussion. SAC anticipates to strengthen the AMS Climate Studies course and drive interest from a wider student population. The usage of hyperlocal data, along with a customized course that focuses on San Antonio’s weather conditions and climate challenges, will make the class a relevant and appealing learning opportunity. The AMS Climate Studies course at SAC will aim to help students join meaningful discussions about local weather conditions and climate change solutions.
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