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Coding with Python: Modeling the Ice Albedo Feedback


As an Undergraduate Earth Sciences, Mathematics or Computer Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you teach how to program in Python and build a computational model of the Earth’s climate system. This lesson plan includes discussions, activities, and a detailed guide of how to create a model to understand the role of the cryosphere in determining the climate of the planet and specifically the Ice Albedo Feedback.

This lesson plan focuses on important questions such as why did the Ice Ages occur? Or, how did the “Snowball Earth” – a time when the entire planet was covered in ice, come to occur? And what are the driving forces behind these phenomena? The resources of this lesson plan include material to help understand the dominant role of the Sun and its energy on the climate of the planet and how climate on Earth responds to the changes in the Solar Constant. It focuses on the ice-albedo feedback cycle, a phenomenon that influences this response strongly and allows for a better understanding of some of the mechanisms that explain Ice Ages and Snowball Earth like climate catastrophes.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to teach a climate science topic in Earth Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Sciences.

Learning Outcome

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  1. Learn about incident solar energy on Earth, climate modelling, planetary surface temperatures and building mathematical models.
  2. Understand the role of the sun in determining the surface temperature of the planet
  3. Understand the link of the climate and the cryosphere and the ice albedo feedback
  4. Use Python to create computational models.

This lesson plan was developed with contributions of Tatsam Garg, Ashoka University

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