Climate and Weather Education through NCEI

by Kara Piarulli

I​ ​had​ ​the​ ​amazing​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Center​ ​for Environmental​ ​Information(NCEI)​ ​this​ ​fall​ ​through​ ​an​ ​internship​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to obtain​ ​my​ ​Master’​ ​s​ ​degree​ ​in​ ​Climate​ ​Change​ ​and​ ​Society​ ​from​ ​NCSU.​ ​I received​ ​my​ ​bachelor’s​ ​degree​ ​in​ ​meteorology​ ​from​ ​Millersville​ ​University​ ​in PA​ ​in​ ​May​ ​of​ ​2016.

I​ ​knew​ ​since​ ​I​ ​was​ ​five​ ​years​ ​old​ ​that​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​pursue​ ​a​ ​career​ ​in​ ​weather. It​ ​all​ ​started​ ​with​ ​a​ ​thunderstorm​ ​with​ ​bright​ ​flashes​ ​of​ ​blue;​ ​this​ ​is​ ​what sparked​ ​my​ ​interest.​ ​Throughout​ ​college​ ​I​ ​would​ ​hear​ ​stories​ ​of​ ​how​ ​other students​ ​like​ ​myself​ ​became​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​meteorology,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​stories were​ ​very​ ​much​ ​the​ ​same.​ ​Originally,​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​get​ ​into​ ​broadcasting.​ ​I never​ ​knew​ ​at​ ​this​ ​young​ ​age​ ​that​ ​there​ ​are​ ​actually​ ​many​ ​different​ ​areas​ ​that meteorologists​ ​could​ ​work​ ​in.

Upon​ ​receiving​ ​my​ ​bachelor’s​ ​degree,​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​further​ ​my education​ ​and​ ​pursue​ ​careers​ ​in​ ​research/education.​ ​I​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​enroll​ ​in the​ ​CCS​ ​program​ ​at​ ​NCSU,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​experience​ ​has​ ​opened​ ​up​ ​so​ ​many​ ​doors for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​be​ ​receiving​ ​my​ ​degree​ ​from​ ​the​ ​university​ ​over​ ​the​ ​winter.​ ​I would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​share​ ​with​ ​you​ ​the​ ​process​ ​and​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​results​ ​from​ ​my internship​ ​project​ ​with​ ​NCEI.

This​ ​project​ ​was​ ​developed​ ​as​ ​climate/weather​ ​data​ ​lesson​ ​for​ ​high​ ​school teachers​ ​to​ ​use​ ​in​ ​their​ ​classroom.​ ​To​ ​test​ ​this​ ​lesson,​ ​I​ ​handed​ ​it​ ​off​ ​to several​ ​teachers​ ​in​ ​North​ ​Carolina​ ​to​ ​use​ ​mainly​ ​at​ ​the​ ​9th​ ​grade​ ​level.​ ​The idea​ ​is​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​the​ ​climate​ ​lesson​ ​after​ ​completing​ ​lessons​ ​in meteorology.​ ​The​ ​intro​ ​to​ ​this​ ​lesson​ ​addresses​ ​climate/weather​ ​terminology and​ ​includes​ ​video​ ​links​ ​that​ ​explain​ ​lesson​ ​objectives.​ ​The​ ​main​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​this lesson​ ​was​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​the​ ​connection​ ​between​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​and​ ​flash​ ​flood events​ ​in​ ​NC​ ​communities​ ​using​ ​NOAA​ ​NCEI​ ​climate​ ​data.
Downloading the data to create the final graphs from the NCEI website:
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search?datasetid=GSOY
 
I​ ​provided​ ​step​ ​by​ ​step​ ​instructions​ ​with​ ​figures​ ​on​ ​how​ ​to​ ​download​ ​the​ ​data needed​ ​for​ ​students​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​from​ ​the​ ​NCEI​ ​website.​ ​This​ ​seems​ ​to​ ​have been​ ​too​ ​time​ ​consuming​ ​for​ ​a​ ​one​ ​day​ ​lesson.​ ​Thus,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​more​ ​appropriate​ ​to deliver​ ​the​ ​lesson​ ​over​ ​a​ ​period​ ​of​ ​two​ ​days.​ ​For​ ​a​ ​one​ ​day​ ​lesson,​ ​datasets can​ ​be​ ​downloaded​ ​the​ ​day​ ​before​ ​by​ ​the​ ​instructor​ ​and​ ​given​ ​to​ ​the​ ​students the​ ​following​ ​day.
Ideal self-generated graph, spanning a data period of 30 years
Students were expected to work in small groups and choose a NC town/city and create precipitation graphs for the last 30 years after exploring the area and determining that it has a history of frequent flash floods. These graphs are then compared to current results and future predictions in precipitation changes as shown in the latest National Climate Assessment. Is climate change responsible for flash floods at this regional level? Students provided to me their final graphs, and I also gathered some final results from teachers on their thoughts and advice for future implementation in schools.
making the connection to climate change via the above graph, via http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/our-changing-climate