Links to Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science
The ability to access and analyze these sources of weather and climate data can be used to build links to
the seven principles of climate literacy as set forth in the
Climate Literacy Network's Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles, March 2009.
- 1. The sun is the primary source of energy for Earth's climate system.
- Pyranometer data available through the publicly available US Climate Reference Network data and
the NOAA-provided additional pyranometer data constitute by far the best nationwide source of
insolation data based on actual data rather than models.
- 2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
- Data available through the US Climate Reference Network include air, surface, and soil temperatures
which show interactions between Earth's atmosphere and surface.
- 3. Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.
- All these weather/climate data illustrate the vast differences in climate across the United States. These
differences can be used to explain differences in flora and fauna across climate zones.
- 4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
- The US Historical Climatology Network data often show the effects of man-made processes (uranization)
in temperature. The 30-year climate normals can be used to show natural and man-made climate
differences within areas as small as a single state.
- 5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations,
theoretical studies, and modeling.
- These data provide many opportunities to study weather/climate variability and construct models to explain
that variaility. The applications provide instantaneous access to data from across the US for
"contrast and compare" activities.
- 6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.
- Heat islands resulting from urbanization are evident in both the 30-year climate normals and the US Historical Climatology Network data.
- 7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.
- Indirect evidence of consequences can be seen in urbanization effects in the 30-year climate normals and
the US Historical Climatology Network data. Heating and cooling degree days, which can be calculated
from air temperatures, are important for understanding climate changes important to agriculture. (See the output
option for historical Philadelphia data.)