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King's Center for Visualization in Science


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus


Climate Contributions

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  • In this interactive graph, students choose different factors that have historically contributed to climate change and observe how the factors impact changes in average global temperature. 
  • Students will learn how solar radiation, volcanic activity, aerosols, land use, ozone, and other greenhouse gases have impacted the average global temperature, according to historical simulations.
Teaching Tips


  • Students can spend time experimenting with changing and combining factors on the graph to observe how they caused changes in global average temperature.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with greenhouse gases, aerosols, land use change, carbon sinks, solar radiation, volcanic activity, and ozone.
  • The graph shows the temperature change in Celsius.


  • Students could discuss why the graph includes the horizontal line representing the global average temperature for the pre-industrial period of 1850-1859.
  • Earth science classes could reflect on the following questions:
    • Why do some factors have both cooling and heating effects?
    • According to the graph, deforestation has a net cooling effect. Does this mean that cutting down forests will help to solve climate change? Why or why not?
    • Aerosols can have a net cooling or a net warming effect. What do you know about the net cooling effects of certain aerosols? Could there be any negative ramifications to net cooling aerosols?
    • Which of the factors on the graph are within human control? Which factors do humans have little or no control over?
Scientist Notes
The data analysis from GISTEMP Team of NASA is credible and accurate. The data visualization in the graph is valid and recommended for teaching
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS2: Earth’s Systems
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth’s systems.
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