GIS, Geoliteracy, and ESRI..What are you waiting for?

This year the changes in climate, the storms and devastation have caused us all to take time to pay attention to weather, to where places are and to what a disaster map is in many places. You should have also learned how and why storms are tracked.

People all of a sudden were worrying and watching the weatherman or a climate mapping system for news about fires, floods, the hurricanes. ESRI provided story maps and data for all to see. Problem? Many students  in the US do not study or use resources that are available free for schools.

During the Hurricane emergencies we could use this map.  There were individual story maps that you could use during the hurricanes, to learn to read, see , big data define the hurricane.Hurricane Harvey  , Hurricane Irma, Hurricane-Irma-1054595

Hurricane Maria

There were also story maps of the fires.

You can learn using ESRI resources.

What is a disaster that is likely to happen in your area? What is the history of weather in your area? What actions should you be ready to take?



There are lots of fabulous tools that we can use to learn about Earth Science. One of my favorite is Science on a Sphere. You can learn about it here. SOS  There are lots of locations where you can go and participate in an SOS program. There is also SOS Lite. That is a download that you can install on your computer. Here is the link. SOS Lite.

Climate Models?

What Is a Climate Model?

Global climate models (GCMs) use math – a  lot of math – to describe how the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, living thingsice, and energy from the Sunaffect each other and Earth’s climate. Thousands of climate researchers use global climate models to better understand how global changes such as increasing greenhouses gases or decreasing Arctic sea ice will affect the Earth. The models are used to look hundreds of years into the future, so that we can predict how our planet’s climate will likely change.

There are various types of climate models. Some focus on certain things that affect climate such as the atmosphere or the oceans. Models that look at few variables of the climate systemmay be simple enough to run on a personal computer. Other models take into account many factors of the atmospherebiospheregeospherehydrosphere, and cryosphere to model the entire Earth system. They take into account the interactions and feedbacks between these different parts of the planet. Earth is a complex place and so many of these models are very complex too. They include so many math calculations that they must be run on supercomputers, which can do the calculations quickly. All climate models must make some assumptions about how the Earth works, but in general, the more complex a model, the more factors it takes into account, and the fewer assumptions it makes. At the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), researchers work with complex models of the Earth’s climate system. Their Community Climate System Model is so complex that it requires about three trillion math calculations to simulate a single day on planet Earth. It can take thousands of hours for the supercomputer to run the model. The model output, typically many gigabytes large, is analyzed by researchers and compared with other model results and with observations and measurement data.

NESTA  Souce

There are currently several other complex global climate models that are used to predict future climatic change. The most robust models are compared by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as they summarize predictions about future climate change.

There are tools that are used to predict weather and to define possibilities that are data models. There is a European Model, and a US Model which we learned from with all of the storms, and fires, in the last several months.

The European Climate Model

  • produces numerical weather forecasts and monitor the Earth-system;
  • carries out scientific and technical research to improve forecast skill;
  • maintains an archive of meteorological data.

To deliver this core mission, the Center provides:

  • twice-daily global numerical weather forecasts;
  • air quality analysis;
  • atmospheric composition monitoring;
  • climate monitoring;
  • ocean circulation analysis;
  • hydrological prediction.

They also provide advanced training to scientific staff in our Member and Co-operating States and assist the World Meteorological Organization with its programs. We make 25% of the supercomputing facilities available to Member States.

The US Climate Model is here. And you can look here

How reliable are computer models of the Earth’s climate?

Climate models are used to analyze past changes in the long-term averages and variations in temperature, precipitation, and other climate indicators, and to make projections of how these trends may change in the future. Today’s climate models do a good job at reproducing the broad features of the present climate and changes in climate, including the significant warming that has occurred over the last 50 years. Hence, climate models can be useful tools for measuring the changes in the factors that drive changes in climate, including heat-trapping gases, particulates from human and volcanic sources, and solar variability.

Scientists have amassed a vast body of knowledge regarding the physical world. However, unlike many areas of science, scientists who study the Earth’s climate cannot build a “control Earth” and conduct experiments on this Earth in a lab. To experiment with the Earth, scientists instead use this accumulated knowledge to build climate models, or “virtual Earths.” In studying climate change, these virtual Earths serve as an important way to integrate different kinds of knowledge of how the climate system works. These models can be used to test scientific understanding of the response of the Earth’s climate to past changes (such as the transition from the last glacial maximum to our current warm interglacial period) as well as to develop projections of future changes (such as the response of the Earth’s climate to human activities).

Climate models are based on mathematical and physical equations representing the fundamental laws of nature and the many processes that affect the Earth’s climate system. When the atmosphere, land, and ocean are divided up into small grid cells and these equations are applied to each grid cell, the models can capture the evolving patterns of atmospheric pressures, winds, temperatures, and precipitation. Over longer timeframes, these models simulate wind patterns, high and low pressure systems, and other weather characteristics that make up climate.

Some important physical processes are represented by approximate relationships because the processes are not fully understood, or they are at a scale that a model cannot directly represent. Examples include clouds, convection, and turbulent mixing of the atmosphere, for which important processes are much smaller than the resolution of current models. These approximations lead to uncertainties in model simulations of climate.

Climate models require enormous computing resources, especially to capture the geographical details of climate. Today’s most powerful supercomputers are enabling climate scientists to more thoroughly examine the effects of climate change in ways that were impossible just five years ago. Over the next decade, computer speeds are predicted to increase another 100 fold or more, permitting even more details of the climate system to be explored.


ucar_model_inputResources for schools.







Digging in Dirt- The Pleasures of Archaeology

Now and Then

I dig archaeology.  I used to think about it all the time.Teaching grades that explored ancient cultures and reading David McCauley’s books, and exploring cultures with students was exciting.

Pyramid , Through concise text and richly detailed black and white illustrations we come to know the philosophy of life and death in ancient Egypt.

I wanted to be an Egyptian archaeologist, and then I went to Egypt. Hot, hot, hot and then hot. There was fun in observing recent excavations and some new sharing of finding. A surprise to me was that the interior of tombs and structures was so beautiful and low.

I am tall so I had to bend down a lot to keep from striking my head.The blocks used to build the pyramid are almost as tall as me. The air was musty and a surprise was the inscriptions inside the walls of the tombs. Hard to photograph.

When you go to a site, there is the weather, the wind, and many steps to get to a viewing point. Egypt was difficult because the heat  made me thirsty too. But it was exciting to be there. I actually learned a lot more about Egyptian Archaeology in the British museum.

Following Catherwood, you would think that there were few sites in Central America. But the jungle uncovers various sites now and then. Archaeology there is interesting. The Mayan Sites are there to be climbed and excavated. The sites are usually on high ground as the communication was by fire and shell horns. On one site I could see all the way to Guatemala. Climbing was difficult. There were no safety bars and getting down from some of the Mayan sites was tricky. Sometimes I would only go halfway up . Under the temples there are royal seats and places to explore and sometimes a scorpion or interesting insects.


There are even more sites to examine and learn about.






“Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. It is a subfield of anthropology, the study of all human culture. From million-year-old fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa, to 20th century buildings in present-day New York City, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human culture.” Source

I actually participated in a dig in Deia, Mallorca , Spain through an Earthwatch Grant from the Wildcat Foundation. We know about the Beaker people who constructed Sun circles. The most prominent one is in England.

There is archaeology in your backyard. In Southern Maryland we investigated Saint Mary’s City. The Smithsonian Estuary Center, SERC has archaeology for Citizen Scientists too.

Of all the artifacts Native Americans of the Chesapeake left behind, the most abundant at SERC are oyster shell middens. Essentially early trash piles, middens are clusters of shells that Native Americans and some early settlers discarded after eating the meat inside. They can endure for millennia. SERC has 31 recorded oyster middens on its property, the oldest dating back to 1250 B.C.E.

There are many places to study Archaeology.

Here and There

These middens have led to some surprising discoveries about Native Americans’ past, and their environmental legacy today. It was once a common belief that Native Americans and the first settlers rarely ate blue crabs, because blue crab remains seldom turned up in archaeological sites. But after a more thorough investigation with scientists at the National Museum of Natural History, SERC scientists discovered blue crab remains were far more common in shell middens than previously thought. They also showed that blue crab remains are fragile and do not preserve very well, except for the tips of their claws.  The claw tips showed that not only did Native American catch and eat blue crabs in addition to oysters, but they caught substantially larger crabs than typically seen today. Furthermore, unlike most modern trash piles, oyster middens have positive environmental impacts still felt in the present. Soils with oyster middens beneath them contain more nutrients, and host a greater diversity of native flora, than soils without them.

Many questions remain: Why is there a 900-year gap in the ages of oyster middens around the Rhode River, spanning 800 B.C.E. to 150 C.E.? Did Native Americans only use the property as seasonal fishing and hunting grounds, or were there ever any permanent villages? Researchers continue to sift through the remains in search of answers.

Of all the artifacts Native Americans of the Chesapeake left behind, the most abundant at SERC are oyster shell middens. Essentially early trash piles, middens are clusters of shells that Native Americans and some early settlers discarded after eating the meat inside. They can endure for millennia. SERC has 31 recorded oyster middens on its property, the oldest dating back to 1250 B.C.E.



Earthwatch is looking for teachers who are passionate about teaching, excited about making a difference with their time and talents, and interested in conservation, environmental sustainability, and lifelong learning.

By engaging teachers, Earthwatch strives to inspire and build a future generation of leaders who value the environment and prioritize it in their everyday choices.

When teachers return from the field, they share their experiences with students, colleagues, family, and friends through stories, lessons, and community action. Fellows truly embody the Earthwatch mission and are critical to our success.