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Investigating Evidence for Climate Change (Project EDDIE) with CO2 and 13CO2 data: adapted for R

Author(s): Marguerite Mauritz

University of Texas at El Paso

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Summary:
This is an adaptation to work in R of Investigating Evidence for Climate Change (Project) by Hage, M. 2020. Students will investigate geologic and modern evidence for global temperature and atmospheric CO2 change using ice-core data and Mauna Loa…

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This is an adaptation to work in R of Investigating Evidence for Climate Change (Project) by Hage, M. 2020. Students will investigate geologic and modern evidence for global temperature and atmospheric CO2 change using ice-core data and Mauna Loa records.

Description

Current climate change is affecting many aspects of the environment, with enormous socio-economic consequences. Mitigating the consequences of climate change by adaptation and reorganisation of infrastructure, agriculture, and human-health support will cost the US economy billions of dollars from now to 2090. Doing nothing will cost 100 billions more per year.   
When examining global climate change, we are concerned not only with the actual temperature, but also with the rate that the temperature changes. Very rapid changes make it more likely that species (maybe even including humans!) cannot adapt and will go extinct. 
A recent IPCC report concludes that to prevent catastrophic impacts on humanity, global warming must be maintained below 1.5 degree C. Indeed, the most aggressive ambitions outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement aim for less than 1.5 degree C of warming.  
For one of the most comprehensive summaries of global C dynamics and evidence for climate change, check out the IPCC AR5 Report carbon chapter in the physical science basis of climate change.

Learning Objectives

  •  To analyze global temperature data to see if Earth’s average global temperatures are really increasing
  • To analyze CO2 data to see if atmospheric levels are really increasing
  • To correlate CO2 data with global temperature to see if there is a relationship
  • To explore evidence that increases in atmospheric CO2 since industrialisation are related to fossil fuel burning
  • To use ice core data for comparing current temperature and CO2 trends with rates of change during pre-historic periods
  • To interpret what these results mean for understanding current climate change
  • Use R to import data from excel files, prepare for analysis, graph, and analyse

R skills

  • Requires a basic to intermediate level experience working in R with primarily Rmd, dplyr, and ggplot2 packages
  • Contains helper code and minimal code version to allow access across different R user-skill levels

Instructor notes:

  • I taught this lab asynchronously during Fall 2020
  • Part I and Part II were each assigned with one week to complete
  • Students got a video walk-through of me doing the lab (I got feedback that this was very helpful), background file, html versions of part I and part II of the assignments
  • Prior to this lab students had an intro lab in which they installed R and necessary packages on their computers and used a pre-existing R dataset to work on basic data preparation and graphing
  • I had students who had never worked in R before and students already working in R. I allowed students to choose between helper or minimal code

Project EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry & Exploration) is a community effort aimed at developing teaching resources and instructors that address quantitative reasoning and scientific concepts using open inquiry of publicly available data. Project EDDIE modules are designed with an A-B-C structure to make them flexible and adaptable to a range of student levels and course structures.

Notes

I adapted the analysis to be completed in R for beginner and slightly more advanced R skills and made two data changes:

  1. updated data time-series up to 2019/2020
  2. added 13C-CO2 data from Mauna Loa

This is an adaptation of Hage, M. (2020). Investigating Evidence for Climate Change (Project EDDIE). Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/FPA6-AS71
Link: https://qubeshub.org/publications/1756/1

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