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Global Change Showcase

We support global change science education for all ages with formal and informal online learning resources on Earth systems fundamentals, field work, and content for lifelong learners. This showcase features some of AGCI's online learning materials targeted at higher education and lifelong learners curious about topics like climate change, energy decarbonization, water availability, food security, and resilience of ecosystems. Resources include engaging public talks by experts from the global change research community and illustrated explainer videos from AGCI's science workshops.

Educational Public Lectures

Here we feature five recent public lectures on pressing global change challenges including climate, energy, water, food, and life. Dozens more are available on our public lectures page.


Earth’s Climate Trajectory: Past and Future presented by Dr. Jessica Tierney at AGCI's 2019 workshop, The Future of Past Climate.

The geologic record offers a kind of a CSI or forensic way of understanding the past climate—it has much to tell us about how we are changing the climate today. In the past there were crocodiles above the Arctic Circle, giant snakes, and palm trees in Antarctica. What might coming centuries hold? Paleo-climatologist Dr. Tierney presents, with beautiful graphics, a compelling story of the Earth’s past with lessons for the future.

Navigate to chaptered subtopics in progress bar or bottom right corner of video.

  • Carbon dioxide measurements
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Global temperature record
  • Climate extremes
  • Paleoclimate
  • Ice cores
  • Sediment cores
  • Proxies for climate
  • Foraminifera
  • 400ppm CO2
  • Pliocene temperature
  • Eocene temperature
  • PETM (Paleo Eocene Thermal Maximum)
  • Shell carbonates
  • Present warming rate
  • IPCC projections

Critical Thinking Questions:
  1. Are past climates with a similar concentration to today’s carbon dioxide in the atmosphere a good analog for climate changes we are seeing now? Why or why not?
  2. What methods and processes are used to determine the temperature of the earth in the last series of glacial cycles, in past millennia?
  3. What are some possible causes of the rapid rise in temperature during the Paleo-Eocene Thermal Maximum?



How Society Can Meet the Paris Agreement presented by David Hone at AGCI's 2018 workshop, Technologies and Policies to Decarbonize the Industry Sector.

Building on a long history of energy scenarios at Shell to explore possible energy futures, David Hone, a Shell executive, lays out a critical path on how to achieve the Paris Agreement -- the Sky Scenario. The net-negative emissions scenario may come as a surprise to many in that it was developed at a major oil company. The scenario utilizes a combination of fuel switching, carbon sequestration, renewables such as wind and solar, nuclear power and enhanced efficiency in all sectors. To succeed this plan requires establishing a reorganization of the energy system over the next 50 years.

Navigate to chaptered subtopics in progress bar or bottom right corner of video.

  • 1896 Arrhenius' paper on CO2 and global temperature
  • Mauna Loa CO2 record
  • Surface temperature
  • Global coal production
  • Global energy system in 2020
  • Early electric cars
  • Paris Agreement of 2015
  • 1.5°C vs 2.0°C  goal
  • Negative emissions
  • National Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • Paris Agreement improvement process
  • The Sky Scenario
  • Carbon pricing
  • Energy efficiency
  • Electrification
  • New energy deployment
  • Deforestation
  • Hydrogen fuel cells
  • Aviation
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • Bioenergy with CCS (BECCS)
  • Non-CO2 greenhouse gases, e.g. nitrous oxide, methane
  • Reforestation

Critical Thinking Questions:
  1. Why is the data gathered at Mauna Loa Observatory important for society?
  2. What can the Keeling Curve tell us about past and current levels of CO2? Has the rate of change of the Keeling Curve remained constant over time, or has it altered in recent decades? Why does the Keeling Curve have ups and downs every year?
  3. What is the relationship between the Keeling Curve and the sources of energy that currently predominate in our energy system?
  4. What are net zero emissions? Why does David Hone consider them necessary in future decades?
  5. What is carbon pricing, and why is its evolution important?
  6. What percentage of the energy used nowadays by society is in the form of electricity? What are the benefits of increasing electrification of our energy system?



From Drought to Floods and Back Again? Learning and Adapting in an Uncertain Climate presented by Dr. Roger Pulwarty at AGCI's 2018 workshop, When the Rain Stops: Drought on Sub Seasonal and Longer Timescales.

Why are there gaps between understanding of natural systems and their relationship to human systems? Building on the work of his mentor Gilbert White, geographer Roger Pulwarty offers an engaging and humous exploration of “living with risk.” Dr. Pulwarty focuses on natural hazards and how society can learn from the past in shaping human preparedness and response thereby reducing exposure to human life and property while better protecting the natural environment. He discusses the role of leadership, barriers to improved resiliency, the value of planning coupled with implementation, and the need for inclusive decision-making.

Navigate to chaptered subtopics in progress bar or bottom right corner of video.

  • Changing climate conditions
  • Disasters
  • Societal costs
  • Population growth
  • California drought
  • Wildfire in the West
  • Spillway failure of Oroville Dam in 2017
  • Lake Powell
  • Drought in Four Corners region
  • Drought and vegetation loss/response
  • Role of leadership to counter political resistance
  • Assessing costs
  • Land use planning
  • Early Warning system
  • Tipping points
  • Planning for implementation
  • Co-production
  • Overconfidence in context of uncertainty
  • Working with practitioners

Critical Thinking Questions:
  1. Why are damages and losses due to weather and climate disasters easier to quantify compared to losses due to droughts?
  2. Dr. Roger Pulwarty displays data that shows the economic benefit of investing in natural hazard mitigation. Why is the return of investing in land use planning and design so high?
  3. What are the five paradoxes related to human thinking and planning? How can overcoming these paradoxes help us move from planning to successful implementation?
  4. How do culture, communication, and capacity affect the way society assesses risk and its response? Why does Dr. Pulwarty emphasize the importance of constitutive and cultural problem solving?



Food Security in the 21st Century: New Thinking on an Age-Old Problem presented by Dr. Rosamond Naylor at AGCI's 2018 workshop, Innovating Global Fruit and Vegetable Food Systems to Help Bring Sustainable Nutrition Security.

The global food system is vast and complex, but how secure is it? Dr. Roz Naylor, Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, explores the food system starting with civilization’s domestication of grains from hybrid crossing to modern genetic modification techniques, considering the trade-offs inherent in feeding the world’s growing population. Dr. Naylor explores possible solutions to the vexing problems of climate change, resource depletion, population growth, changing diets, poverty, and conflict.

Navigate to chaptered subtopics in progress bar or bottom right corner of video.

  • Global food system
  • Four food system pillars (availability, access, utilization, stability)
  • Green Revolution
  • Malnutrition
  • Micronutrients
  • Nutrition security
  • Change in growing season
  • Pests & pathogens
  • Genetic modification
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • No till agriculture
  • Food systems in West Africa
  • PV water pumping for irrigation
  • Improved yields
  • Terrestrial and aquatic animal protein
  • Technology transfer
  • Diversity & cultural preference
  • Human population
  • Reproductive health

Critical Thinking Questions:
  1. How did the four pillars of food security (availability, access, utilization, stability) interact with one another in the example of the Green Revolution in Asia vs. in Africa? (You can learn more about the Green Revolution in Dr. Tim Crews’s 2009 public lecture.)
  2. How are climate impacts expected to affect agriculture, and what are some examples of tradeoffs for different management options used to respond to those impacts?
  3. Dr. Naylor lays out many of the benefits of GMOs/GE food. What are some scientifically-backed counter arguments to GMO/GE use? Do you see GE as integral to sustainable agriculture: why or why not? (For additional discussion on this topic, refer to Dr. Pam Ronald's 2019 public lecture.)
  4. How do modern approaches to genetic sequencing and CRISPR gene editing change the field of crop breeding and modification? (For additional discussion on this topic, refer to Dr. Pam Ronald's 2019 public lecture.)
  5. What does food and/or nutrition security look like in your community? What solutions are already being pursued and what more can be done?



Coral Reefs and Climate Change: An Ecosystem Meets its Match presented by Dr. Joanie Kleypas at AGCI's 2018 workshop, Frontiers of Global Change.

What is coral bleaching? Why does the acidity and temperature of the ocean matter to corals? What is driving the stressors to coral reef systems and how are they projected to fair in the coming decades? Dr. Joanie Kleypas gives an engaging and colorful presentation of life below the ocean's surface and how human activity is damaging coral ecosystems. Dr. Kleypas utilizes the latest in ocean modeling to project future ocean conditions juxtaposed with the global distribution of coral reefs, concluding with stories about promising attempts at reef restoration and strategies for reducing climate impacts on our oceans.

Navigate to chaptered subtopics in progress bar or bottom right corner of video.

  • Global map of coral reefs
  • Coral reefs defined
  • Ocean acidification
  • Coral bleaching
  • Coral symbiosis with algae that photosynthesize
  • Heat stress impacts on coral
  • Map of severe coral reef bleaching
  • Coral life cycle
  • Species interactions-bioerosion
  • Media reporting
  • Restoration strategies
  • Coral spawning
  • Sources and sinks of larvae - relation to ocean currents
  • Adaptation ability of different species

Critical Thinking Questions:
  1. What are the mechanisms and impacts of increased atmospheric CO2 on oceans and coral reefs? How are these impacts distributed around the world?
  2. How do we know that more CO2 in the atmosphere drives ocean acidification? How do we know its effects on ocean ecosystems? (To learn more on methods for monitoring coral reef health refer to Dr. Ken Caldeira’s 2016 public lecture.)
  3. How are different solutions to coral reef loss interconnected with one another? How do we monitor if solutions are working?
  4. Why should the survival and health of coral reefs be a global priority? Describe three ways coral reefs impact the lives of humans.
  5. Since Dr. Kleypas’s talk in 2014, there have been highly publicized, extreme bleaching events covered in the news. How does the media coverage of such events impact public perception of coral reef survival, and how does media coverage you have seen compare with Dr. Kleypas’s message to "give reefs a chance"?


Explainer Videos // Videos Explicativos

Science + Society = Innovation // Ciencia + Sociedad = Innovación

A product of an AGCI collaboration with AGU 100 // Un producto de AGCI en colaboración con AGU 100

Click on the cc button in the lower right of video for captions in English or Spanish. Subtítulos en Español e Inglés disponibles al apretar el botón cc en la esquina inferior derecha de video.

It’s imperative for science to contribute to society’s novel and enormous 21st century challenges, while also retaining and enhancing its tremendous innovation generating capacity. Innovation is needed not just in advancing technology, but also in making changes to organizations and institutions. In exploring how to meet this challenge, a different, more interactive and collaborative way of doing science is becoming more widespread. There is hope that doing collaborative research will foster different kinds of innovation and ways of thinking. More Earth scientists than ever before are doing their research in collaboration with non-researchers, who have expertise in what kinds of knowledge is needed, who have a stake in research outcomes, and who can use science to inform decisions and actions.

Es imperativo que la ciencia contribuya a los enormes y nuevos desafíos del siglo XXI, mientras también retiene y mejora su tremenda capacidad de generar innovaciones. La innovación no solo se necesita para avanzar la tecnología, sino que también para hacer cambios en organizaciones e instituciones. Al explorar cómo cumplir este desafío, una forma diferente, más colaborativa de hacer ciencia se está extendiendo. Hay esperanza en que mayor colaboración al investigar fomente distintas innovaciones y formas de pensar. Más que nunca, científicos de la Tierra están investigando en colaboración con no-investigadores, quienes saben qué tipo de conocimiento se necesita, tienen interés en los resultados de las investigaciones, y pueden utilizar la ciencia para informar decisiones y acciones.


What Happens in the Arctic Doesn't Stay in the Arctic // Lo que pasa en el Ártico, no se queda en el Ártico

A product of AGCI's 2017 workshop Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Polar Amplification // Un producto del taller de AGCI en 2017 "Entendiendo las Causas y Consecuencias de la Amplificación Polar"

Click on the cc button in the lower right of video for captions in English or Spanish. Subtítulos en Español e Inglés disponibles al apretar el botón cc en la esquina inferior derecha de video.

The average surface temperature in the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the globe as a whole, and because Earth’s climate is a relatively closed system, changes in one area of the Earth will influence other areas, whether they are close together or not. Scientists have found that there does appear to be a relationship between warming in the Arctic and changing weather patterns in the U.S. and elsewhere. Climate scientists are improving our understanding of the interconnectivity of Earth’s systems to better inform us on the weather, the climate, and how they are changing together.

La temperatura promedio de la superficie del Ártico se está calentando más del doble de rápido que la Tierra como un todo. Debido a que el clima de la Tierra es un sistema relativamente cerrado, cambios en un área de la Tierra influencian otras áreas, estén cerca o no. Científicos han determinado que pareciera haber una relación entre el calentamiento en el Ártico y cambios en patrones climáticos en el resto del mundo. Científicos climáticos están mejorando nuestro entendimiento de la interconectividad de los sistemas de la Tierra, para informarnos mejor sobre el tiempo meteorológico, el clima, y cómo están cambiando juntos.


Sugar, Kidneys, and the Climate Connection // Azúcar, Riñones, y la Conexión Climática

A product of AGCI's 2016 workshop Health Impacts from Climate Change: The Importance of Public Health Partnerships // Un producto del taller de AGCI en 2016 "Impactos del Cambio Climático sobre la Salud Humana: La Importancia de las Asociaciones de Salud Pública"

Click on the cc button in the lower right of video for captions in English or Spanish. Subtítulos en Español e Inglés disponibles al apretar el botón cc en la esquina inferior derecha de video.

A new type of chronic kidney disease is emerging throughout the world and may be one of the first epidemics linked to global warming. Many agricultural workers have extremely physically demanding jobs that they carry out in hot and humid conditions with limited shade, breaks, and access to drinking water. As these areas are expected to get hotter with climate change, an increase in heat wave events will likely amplify heat stress, water shortage, and overexertion, and therefore increase the frequency and intensity of cases of this kidney disease.

Un nuevo tipo de enfermedad renal crónica está emergiendo alrededor del mundo y puede que sea una de las primeras epidemias vinculadas al calentamiento global. Muchos trabajadores agrícolas tienen trabajos muy demandantes físicamente, en condiciones laborales cálidas y húmedas con sombras, recesos, y acceso a agua potable limitados. Se espera que estas áreas se tornen más cálidas debido al cambio climático, con incrementos en olas de calor que probablemente amplifiquen el estrés por calor, la falta de agua, y el sobreesfuerzo, lo que incrementaría la frecuencia e intensidad de los casos de este tipo de enfermedad renal.


Fostering Dialogue to Support Community Resilience // Fomentando el Diálogo para Apoyar Comunidades Resilientes

A product of AGCI's 2015 workshop Risk & Resilience in the Face of Global Change // Un producto del taller de AGCI en 2015 Riesgo & Resiliencia en la Cara del Cambio Global

Click on the cc button in the lower right of video for captions in English or Spanish. Subtítulos en Español e Inglés disponibles al apretar el botón cc en la esquina inferior derecha de video.

The concept of community ‘resilience’ has sky-rocketed in popularity in recent years. So, what does ‘resilience’ really mean? Well, there are a lot of answers to that question! Here are some ideas for how to foster dialogue around community resilience, while recognizing and respecting diverse expectations and goals. This process allows resilience discussions to focus on shared underlying values among different stakeholders - such as dedication to safety, community, or equity. This process of finding common ground will be critical to laying the foundation for long-term successful partnerships around resilience.

La popularidad del concepto de comunidad ‘resiliente’ ha crecido muchísimo en años recientes. Entonces, ¿qué significa ‘resiliente’? ¡Bueno, hay muchas respuestas a esa pregunta! Aquí hay algunas ideas sobre cómo fomentar el diálogo sobre comunidades ‘resilientes’, mientras reconocemos y respetamos diversas expectativas y metas. Este proceso permite que las discusiones sobre ‘resiliencia’ se focalicen en valores subyacentes compartidos entre distintos interesados – tal como la dedicación a la seguridad, a la comunidad, o a la equidad. Este proceso de encontrar un terreno común será crítico para establecer las bases a largo plazo de asociaciones exitosas alrededor de la resiliencia.


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