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Activity Number: 611
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Thursday, August 2, 2012 : 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #304649
Title: Using Data from Climate Science to Teach Introductory Statistics
Author(s): Gary Witt*+
Companies: Temple University
Address: Dept of Statistics-203Q Speakman Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 19122, United States
Keywords: Climate Science ; Teaching Introductory Statistics

The popular press is filled with contradictory opinions about climate change. This paper shows how simple statistical methods can reveal important insights from climate data. Teachers can encourage students to use statistics to analyze data for themselves on important issues in business and public policy. In fact, most universities have an explicit commitment to sustainability which includes a pledge to infuse their curriculum with awareness of the facts of climate change.

Two detailed examples demonstrate how climate data can be a useful tool in teaching introductory statistics. The first example shows how recent data is eroding the consensus among climate scientists on the very important topic of the rate of decline of Arctic Sea Ice. The second example compares two possible explanations for the rise in global temperature over the last three decades: changes in the intensity of sunlight or changes in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In addition to the specific data sources for these examples, the paper lists reliable on-line catalogues of climate science databases for constructing other examples.

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