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Differential Calculus using Methane Data

Classroom/Laboratory Activity

A classroom/laboratory activity for Mathematics teachers to teach about Differential Calculus, specifically, about polynomial differentiation focusing on Tangent Line Problem and Curve Fitting. This activity contains yearly data of the globally averaged marine surface methane from 1984 to 2019. Methane is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – a potential cause of global warming.

Students will learn the use of scatter plot and curve fitting to derive the polynomial differentiation function. Further this activity will allow students to predict future methane concentrations.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What are polynomial differentiation functions?
  2. Derive a polynomial function using the given methane concentration date.
  3. Calculate future methane concentration using polynomial differentiation.
About Tool
Tool NameGlobal Marine Surface CH4
DisciplineMathematics and Statistics 
Topic(s) in DisciplineCalculus, Differentiation, Differential Calculus, Polynomial Differentiation, Tangent Line Problem, Scatter Plot, Curve Fitting
Climate TopicClimate Variability Record
Type of toolClassroom/Laboratory Activity 
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
Translation     –
Developed byThomas J. Pfaff (Ithaca College) 
Hosted atSustainability Math 
Computer SkillsBasic

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