Celebrate World Meteorological Day by bringing the future of climate change into your classroom!

March 23rd marks the annual World Meteorological Day. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, developed this event along with many other notable actions including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Global Atmosphere Watch. Their efforts to educate and counteract climate change have been substantial and were even recognized with the Nobel Prize in 2007. World Meteorological Day provides an opportunity for you to further highlight this message with your students.

WMO has organized World Meteorological Day around three themes related to global climate change: hotter, drier, and wetter. Along with rising temperatures, seasons have been disrupted – resulting in both droughts and heavy rainfall depending on the location. Use these themes to bring awareness to climate change in your classroom by trying one or more of the activities below.

Hotter

This past year was the hottest year on record. This has potentially large impacts on ecosystems, health, and the economy. Kick off World Meteorological Day by analyzing data and identifying trends in your local community or around the world.

One great resource for global data is NASA. Here you can find a library of images, as well as extensive sets of data. You could have your students compare a variety of factors including sea surface temperatures, air temperatures, precipitation, snow amounts, and surface cover. Challenge students to create graphical displays of their chosen data to share with the class.

Drier

World Meteorological Day

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Data suggests that the contrast between wet and dry areas is going in increase over the next century. The World Bank has predicted that this will lead to greater stresses on water, primarily the availability of safe drinking water. Use World Meteorological Day as an opportunity to develop citizenship in your classroom by developing well-informed students who are dedicated to service.

Start by exploring the World Bank’s strategies for addressing the need for safe water. Challenge your students to consider ways they can get involved and do their part. This could include creating a Public Service Announcement to be played for the school or community.

Take this one step further and partner with organizations that provide clean drinking water for areas in need. One such organization is H2O for Life, which will partner you with a school in a developing country. Students can raise funds and raise awareness about this water crisis. Project funding enables building wells, handwashing stations, latrines, and rainwater catchment tanks.

Wetter

Increases in temperature also bring changes to the water cycle. Warmer air holds more moisture, resulting in some areas of the world receiving increased levels of rainfall and severe weather. The last decade has seen many catastrophic flooding events. Use this World Meteorological Day theme to get your students designing through a focused genius hour.

Genius hours are a time to create solutions to a common problem. In this case, how can we help prevent the impacts of flash flooding? Allow your students time to research, create, and build models of realistic and cost effective flood barriers or diverters. Encourage students to consider areas at higher risk for these events, or those which have experienced an event recently, such as Pakistan, India, and the Philippines.

As the hour comes to a close, ask students to share their ideas with the class. Hold an open forum brainstorming how effective each model may be and how it could be improved. Reach out to the community to showcase students’ ideas further. Perhaps there may be an idea that can impact the world!

Resources

Find more information, data resources, and project ideas for World Meteorological Day on the WMO website.

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