As an Undergraduate teacher of Earth Sciences or Physics or Math, you can teach how to build a mathematical model of the Earth’s climate system using Python. This lesson plan includes discussions, activities, and a detailed guide of how to create a computational model of Earth’s energy balance to understand its role in determining the surface temperature of the planet.

This lesson plan uses resources developed by Prof. David Archer from the University of Chicago. Specifically, it focuses on the “Time dependent Energy-Balance Model for the Earth” that includes fundamental **thermodynamics** concepts such as **blackbody radiation** and **heat capacities**. The model applies these concepts to study how the energy balance between the incident solar radiation and the outgoing terrestrial radiation governs the surface temperature of the planet, and consequently, how it evolves over time. The activity section of this lesson plan includes a detailed instruction manual that serves as a step-by-step guide to conceptualize David Archer’s model in numerical and algorithmic terms, eventually developing a computational model using Python programming.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in** Math, Earth Sciences **and **Physics**.

This lesson plan was developed by Tatsam Garg, Ashoka University, India.

**The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:**

- Learn about incident solar energy on Earth, Blackbody Radiation, Heat capacity, Climate Modelling, Planetary Surface Temperatures and building mathematical Models.
- Understand how the surface temperature of a planet evolves with time
- Use algorithmic thinking to translate a mathematical model into writing a computational version of it.
- Use Python to create computational models.

About

Step-by-Step User Guide

Questions

Credits

Review

About

Step-by-Step User Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.

Video Lecture (45 min)

- Play the video lecture, ‘Our first Climate Model’, by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago, to enable your students to understand the scientific background and the schematics of the climate model.
- Emphasize the following topics from the video lecture: Incident Solar Energy, the Solar Constant, behavior of a Blackbody, the Stephan Boltzmann Law, heat capacities, and the heat capacity of water.
- Discuss what every parameter in the model means physically.
- Remind your students about the units of each quantity that would be required to verify dimensionally correct equations.

Teaching Module(45 min)

- Ask your students to install a Python programming environment on their computers.
- For beginners, we recommend using Jupyter Notebooks. This environment allows you to access tutorials and a programming space where students can simultaneously read instructions and try their hands at programming.
- To access Jupyter Notebooks, install the ‘Anaconda-Navigator’ using this link.
- Once it is successfully installed on your computer, navigate to the homepage of the software, and click on ‘Install’ in the ‘Jupyter Notebook’ tab.
- Once installed, launch the notebook- the ‘Jupyter notebook Homepage’ will open as a webpage.
- Open a new ‘Python 3’ file to begin coding.

Classroom/ Laboratory Activity(60 min)

Use the link to the Python tutorial database to teach the basics of Python programming such as printing text, defining variables, simple arithmetic operations, import and use of the ‘numpy’ and ‘matplotlib’ libraries, defining arrays and lists, using indices with arrays and lists, and loops (specifically ‘for’ loops). These introductory skills will be required for the ensuing classroom/laboratory activity.

Begin by recalling the Time-Dependent Energy Balance Model described in the first resource. Inform your students that this classroom activity involves developing the climate model using Python. This exercise has been adopted from Prof David Archer’s course titled “Global Warming II: Create your own models in python”, available on Coursera here.

A detailed step-by-step guide for this activity is provided here for download.

- Share the instruction manual for the exercise with each student. The manual is in the format of a Jupyter Notebook and walks you through the entire process of developing the model on Python.
- Download the notebook using the links provided.
- To open it, launch Jupyter notebook from the Anaconda-Navigator.
- From the homepage, go to ‘downloads’ folder from the directory and search for the manual.
- If you want the students to work their way through the exercise themselves, you may avoid sharing the manual with them. Instead, use it to motivate them in the right direction with hints.

Questions

**Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:**

- Use the Python program to find out how do the initial conditions affect late-time behavior of the system.
- What does each parameter mean physically? By changing various parameters of the system, how does it evolve? What is the physical significance of this evolution?
- Modify the Python Program that we have built to incorporate higher levels of complexity, for instance, an atmosphere.

Credits

1 | Video Lecture; “Our first Climate Model” | Presented by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago |

2 | Teaching Module; ‘Derivatives and the Shape of a Graph’ | Developed by Python.org |

3 | Teaching Module; ‘Tutorial- The Time Dependent Energy Balance Model for Earth’ | Developed by Tatsam Garg, Ashoka University |

4 | Additional Resources | Presented by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago for Coursera |

Review

About

Step-by-Step User Guide

Questions

Credits

Review

About

Step-by-Step User Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.

Video Lecture (45 min)

- Play the video lecture, ‘Our first Climate Model’, by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago, to enable your students to understand the scientific background and the schematics of the climate model.
- Emphasize the following topics from the video lecture: Incident Solar Energy, the Solar Constant, behavior of a Blackbody, the Stephan Boltzmann Law, heat capacities, and the heat capacity of water.
- Discuss what every parameter in the model means physically.
- Remind your students about the units of each quantity that would be required to verify dimensionally correct equations.

Teaching Module(45 min)

- Ask your students to install a Python programming environment on their computers.
- For beginners, we recommend using Jupyter Notebooks. This environment allows you to access tutorials and a programming space where students can simultaneously read instructions and try their hands at programming.
- To access Jupyter Notebooks, install the ‘Anaconda-Navigator’ using this link.
- Once it is successfully installed on your computer, navigate to the homepage of the software, and click on ‘Install’ in the ‘Jupyter Notebook’ tab.
- Once installed, launch the notebook- the ‘Jupyter notebook Homepage’ will open as a webpage.
- Open a new ‘Python 3’ file to begin coding.

Classroom/ Laboratory Activity(60 min)

Use the link to the Python tutorial database to teach the basics of Python programming such as printing text, defining variables, simple arithmetic operations, import and use of the ‘numpy’ and ‘matplotlib’ libraries, defining arrays and lists, using indices with arrays and lists, and loops (specifically ‘for’ loops). These introductory skills will be required for the ensuing classroom/laboratory activity.

Suggested questions/assignments for learning evaluation

Use the link to the Python tutorial database to teach the basics of Python programming such as printing text, defining variables, simple arithmetic operations, import and use of the ‘numpy’ and ‘matplotlib’ libraries, defining arrays and lists, using indices with arrays and lists, and loops (specifically ‘for’ loops). These introductory skills will be required for the ensuing classroom/laboratory activity.

A detailed step-by-step guide for this activity is provided with this Lesson Plan.

- Share the instruction manual for the exercise with each student. The manual is in the format of a Jupyter Notebook and walks you through the entire process of developing the model on Python.
- Download the notebook using the links provided.
- To open it, launch Jupyter notebook from the Anaconda-Navigator.
- From the homepage, go to ‘downloads’ folder from the directory and search for the manual.
- If you want the students to work their way through the exercise themselves, you may avoid sharing the manual with them. Instead, use it to motivate them in the right direction with hints.

- Use the Python program to find out how do the initial conditions affect late-time behavior of the system.
- What does each parameter mean physically? By changing various parameters of the system, how does it evolve? What is the physical significance of this evolution?
- Modify the Python Program that we have built to incorporate higher levels of complexity, for instance, an atmosphere.

Questions

**Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:**

- Use the Python program to find out how do the initial conditions affect late-time behavior of the system.
- What does each parameter mean physically? By changing various parameters of the system, how does it evolve? What is the physical significance of this evolution?
- Modify the Python Program that we have built to incorporate higher levels of complexity, for instance, an atmosphere.

Credits

1 | Video Lecture; “Our first Climate Model” | Presented by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago |

2 | Teaching Module; ‘Derivatives and the Shape of a Graph’ | Developed by Python.org |

3 | Teaching Module; ‘Tutorial- The Time Dependent Energy Balance Model for Earth’ | Developed by Tatsam Garg, Ashoka University |

4 | Additional Resources | Presented by Prof David Archer, University of Chicago for Coursera |

Review

TROP ICSU is a project of the International Union of Biological Sciences and Centre for Sustainability, Environment and Climate Change, FLAME University.