Climate change will profoundly impact Earth’s environmental health as well as the world’s economic and geopolitical landscape over the coming decades. The impacts of climate change are, in fact, already beginning to be seen and have the potential to effect everyone. Thus, a basic knowledge of the Earth’s climate system is critical in order to make informed judgments about climate-related issues and, equally important, the workforce of the future needs to understand how to analyze climate data, interact with computer simulations, and assess the impacts of various climate change projections. To achieve that goal, educators and their students need access to the scientific and technological resources that scientists use in the study of climate change.
Computer-driven global climate models (GCMs) are the primary tools used today in climate change research. Until now, however, they have been little more than a “black box” to most people. As a practical matter, few educators have had access to GCMs, which typically required supercomputing facilities and skilled programmers to run. The resulting lack of familiarity with climate modeling techniques has often engendered public distrust of important scientific findings based on such methodologies.
EdGCM changes all this by providing a research-grade GCM with a user-friendly interface that can be run on laptops or desktop computers. Students can now explore the subject of climate change in the same manner as research scientists. In the process of using EdGCM, students will become knowledgeable about a topic that will surely affect their lives, and they will be better prepared to grapple with a myriad of complex climate issues.
Our goal with the EdGCM Project is to improve the quality of teaching and learning of climate-change science through broader access to GCMs, and to provide appropriate technology and materials to help educators use these models effectively. With research-quality resources in place, linking classrooms to actual research projects is not only possible, but can also be beneficial to the education and research communities alike.
For more information, see EdGCM: The Software