Section 1: Climate Change and Forests

For the past 200 years, scientists have been conducting research to improve our understanding of Earth’s climate. Scientists have collected, analyzed, and compared various kinds of historical climate data to arrive at the conclusion that Earth’s climate is warming and producing climate changes. The three activities in this section provide background on climate change and introduce the ways in which forests in the Southeast United States likely will be impacted by climate change. In these activities, students explore connections between climate and southeastern forests (Activity 1 and Activity 3) and delve more deeply into climate science and the human dimensions of climate change (Activity 2) through class discussions, a climate timeline, role-play, and web-based atlases.


Key Concepts in Section 1

  • Many lines of scientific evidence indicate the Earth’s climate is changing and that this change is caused by a combination of natural and human activities, particularly the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • People have varying opinions and ideas about climate change, which may or may not be supported by scientific evidence.
  • Communities around the world are working to minimize the effects of climate change by reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases and implementing strategies to help people and ecosystems adapt to changing climate conditions.
  • Southeastern forests will probably be impacted by projected climate changes in several ways, including changes in tree growth and distribution.
For brief background and a chart containing concepts that may potentially be confusing to your students,
download the Section 1 Overview.