GEOL108: Earth Science and Society

Module 6: Earth's Lithosphere
Project 2 - Instructions
Your Project 2 assignment consists of two parts: Part A, and Part B, the essay.
Part A includes graphs that will help you understand and interpret changes in
precipitation, temperature and other factors and their potential relationship to global
warming. Part A also includes questions for you to think about regarding the graphs.
You will be able to access the answers to all the questions posed.
Your completed Project 2 Part B will be an essay addressing the questions/points
below described at the Part B link in the table of contents to the left.
You should begin working on Project 2 in Module 5. The project is due in Module 6.


GEOL108: Earth Science and Society

Module 6: Earth's Lithosphere
Project 2 - Introduction
There has been a considerable amount of discussion in recent days, weeks, and
months about global warming and its probable effects. In this project we are looking
at a limited geographic area over a period of time, where variables such as
temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, deficits, surpluses, and runoff have
been quantified for the entire area under consideration.
The Wabash River Watershed covers an area of greater than 33,000 square miles in
extreme west-central Ohio, the central 4/5 of Indiana (not including the extreme
northern areas that drain into the Great Lakes and the extreme southern strip that
drains directly into the Ohio River) and the southeastern ¼ of Illinois. Major cities
such as Indianapolis, Champaign, Urbana, Terre Haute, Lafayette and Vincennes, fall
within this watershed. Atmospheric and surface water data have been calculated in
monthly increments for this region. This data has been re-charted on an annual
basis. This includes maximum, minimum, and average temperatures, as well as the
average temperature range. There is also precipitation data: total precipitation, days
of light, moderate, heavy and the total number of days of precipitation. There is also
water balance data, for actual evapotranspiration, deficit, surplus and estimated
water runoff, which is often a proxy for streamflow data. The time range of the data
is 1961 through 1990.
This data should be in the boundary period between which there was little direct
evidence of a warming climate and the beginning period of significant warming. The
figures below give the reader three pieces of information: the raw average or sum
data, a 5-year running mean (average over 1961 to 1965 for example), and a 10-year
running mean (averaged over 1961 to 1970 for example). Raw data often includes a
preponderance of variations in the data and some data noise. By averaging of
various periods of time these variations can be smoothed so that more recognizable
patterns can be identified.
The first thing that you should in preparation for this project is to research what
greenhouse effect and global warming are. If global warming, and humankind’s role
in it are true, what types of changes should we see in the environment. A discussion
of these issues should serve as the basis for your introduction to the project.
Some items should also be remembered about the data period under consideration,
1961 to 1990. Roughly from the end of World War 2 to 1980 there was a fairly
consistent cooling, or at least stabilization, of the climate of North America.
Agriculture zones and animal populations were shifting south. This period was
punctuated, at its end, by the severe winters of 1976-77 and 1977-78. The former
winter was one of the coldest in U.S. history, with January 1977 being the coldest
January in U.S. history. There were massive natural gas shortages at this time, as
the pipelines supplying natural gas could not keep up with the demand. For
example, the normal January temperature in Chicago is 22oF, while in January 1977

it was 10.4 oF. So, in many ways this period at the end of the 1970s is a tipping or
inflection point in much of the data.


Project 2 - Part A
Directions for Part A:
Part A includes graphs that will help you understand and interpret changes in precipitation,
temperature and other factors and their potential relationship to global warming. Part A
also includes questions for you to think about regarding the graphs. You will be able to
access the answers to all of the questions posed.

In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,
especially the 10-year running mean?
1.

Hover for the answer:
The overall trend as a decrease in the average annual maximum temperature, until
approximately 1982, when the temperature value increased significantly though the end
of the decade.
How does the maximum temperature at the beginning compare with the
end?
2.

Hover for the answer:
The maximum temperature at the end of the period was nearly as high as it was at the
beginning, with the increase occurring over a much shorter time period.

How does the maximum temperature in the late 1970s compare with the
end of the 1980s?
3.

Hover for the answer:
The maximum temperature in the late l970s was at its lowest point, while at the end of
the decade had reached some of its highest levels of the 30-year period.
4.

What could explain this?

Hover for the answer:
The late 1970s were associated with some of the coldest and most severe winter's in
U.S. history. January of 1977 was the coldest January in the history of the U.S., and
several studies were done of the likelihood of descending into another "Little Ice
Age". Overall, the increase of the maximum temperatures in the final decade of the data
presented may represent the first indications of human-induced "global warming".

In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,
especially the 10-year running mean?
5.

Hover for the answer:
The overall trend of the average minimum temperature data is a bit different. There is a
low value in the early 1980s, but it does not represent the lowest data in the chronologic
data set; that occurs at the beginning of the data set in the early 1960s. There are
peaks in the early 1970s and at the end of the data set in the late 1980s. The general
trend of the 10-year running mean is upward.
The average minimum data is acting different from the maximum data.
There are basically 2 peaks, with a small trough in-between. Is there anything
in global warming theory that you have discovered that may explain this earlier
increase in the minimum temperature data than what we have found in the
maximum data? How does the minimum temperature at the beginning
compare with the end?
6.

Hover for the answer:
Global warming theory indicates that with increasing global and local temperatures,
there should be increased rate of evaporation. This should lead to more moisture being
available in the atmosphere. This increased moisture in the atmosphere could lead to
more cloud cover/fog/haze, which would tend to hold more heat in the lower
atmosphere, leading to higher minimum temperatures.
How does the minimum temperature in the late 1970s compare with the
end of the 1980s?
7.

Hover for the answer:
The minimum temperatures, in the 10-year running mean, increases more than 1
degree, with no instance of a decline over any point of that last decade

In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,
especially the 10-year running mean?
8.

Hover for the answer:
The averaging of the maximum and minimum data indicates a roughly stable
temperature in the first decade, declining average temperatures in the second decade,
and rapidly increasing in the 3rd decade.
Does the pattern or curve of this line more closely resemble the one for
maximum temperatures or minimum ones? How does the average
temperature at the beginning compare with the end?
9.

Hover for the answer:
The pattern is a mixture of the 2, but seems to more closely represent the maximum
data.
10. How does the average temperature in the late 1970s compare with the

end of the 1980s?
Hover for the answer:

The average temperature increased by almost 1 degree over that time period.
11. Although this date terminates more than 15 years ago, what was it

indicating in the late 1980s already?
Hover for the answer:
The data from the 1980s indicated a rapidly increasing average temperature, which
seems to support the idea that we were entering a period of rapid global warming.

12. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
Although it varies from year-to-year there is a downward tendency in the size of the
daily temperature range, of more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.
13. What would a declining temperature range indicate to us about what is

happening to maximum and minimum temperature, since the temperature
range is a measure of the difference between the maximum and minimum?
Hover for the answer:

A declining daily temperature range would indicate that the difference between the daily
maximum and minimum temperatures is growing smaller and smaller.
14. Global warming theory indicates that the increased greenhouse gases

would cause the Earth’s atmosphere to hold on to night-time warmth more
effectively than increases mid-day temperatures. Does the data tend to agree
with that supposition?
Hover for the answer:
Since minimum temperatures are increasing faster than maximum temperatures, this
would appear to be the case. The data does seem to agree with that.

15. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
A rapid increase in the first decade, with a a very slight increase since then
16. Three of the primary greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide,

and methane. Water vapor is a actually the most effective greenhouse gas.
As the temperature rises we would expect more water vapor to be available
for precipitation. Does the data support that kind of supposition.

Hover for the answer:
Since the levels of precipitation have increased significantly, from 39 inches at the
beginning of the period to 42 inches at the end, that would appear to be the case. The
complication here is that with increasing temperatures rates of evaporation and
transpiration would be increasing too.

17. How does the annual precipitation at the beginning of the data period

compare to the end?
Hover for the answer:
Increasing from 39 inches to 42 inches in the 10-year running mean data. In fact, the
last year of the data set showed precipitation far in excess of any other year.
18. One of the expectations of global warming theory is the expectation of less

dependable precipitation and more droughts in the central areas of continental
land masses. Does the data support that supposition if global warming is
true?
Hover for the answer:
The data does not support the idea that continental land mass areas would receive less
precipitation in a globally warmed environment. One of the suppositions is that global
warming affects high latitudes more than tropical ones. Therefore, there is less of a
temperature difference north to south in the northern hemisphere. This temperature
gradient is one of the things that helps drive and create strong storm systems. A weak
temperature gradient would mean that continental storm systems (low pressure areas)
would be weaker and less able to transport moisture inland from the Gulf of Mexico,
resulting in lower precipitation amounts. The data does not support this. Additionally, it
should be remembered that it is both precipitation (low amounts) and evaporation (high
amounts) that work to provide drought conditions, not just the lack of rainfall.

19. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
A general increase, especially late in the period of days of light precipitation.
20. How does the number of light precipitation days at the end of the period

compare to the beginning?
Hover for the answer:
A significant increase, from 168 to 184 in the 10-year running mean, an increase of
almost 10%.

21. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
From beginning to end an increase, However, it peaks in the late 1970s.

22. How does the number of moderate precipitation change compare from the

beginning point of the data and the end of the data?
Hover for the answer:
In the 10-year running mean data, there are 52 days of moderate precipitation at the
beginning, it rises to 60 in the late 1970s, and drops to as low as 56 in the late 1980s,
an increase over the entire data set, but somewhat depressed during te 1980s.
23. Why might the trend of the data after the late 1970s be significant, and is

the upward spike in the last year necessarily significant?
Hover for the answer:
It may indicate, with increasing temperatures and evaporation, more drought-prone
conditions, in the 1980s, due to decreased levels of moderate precipitation. The last
upward spike may not be significant, in that that single year may be anomalous.

24. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
The overall trend, from the beginning point to the end point is down.

25. The heavy precipitation data though shows a different trend from the

others. What is its variability from year-to-year? When are its peaks and
valleys?
Hover for the answer:
There a concentration of heavy precipitation days in the 1960s. The 5-year running
mean data seems to indicate wide swings in the data from year-to-year. The peaks and
valleys seem to be 1-2 year periods on the 5-year averaged data.
26. Any speculation on the differences we see between the heavy

precipitation days data and the others, especially with reference to global
warming, or climatic change in general?
Hover for the answer:
Any differences in the heavy precipitation days would appear to be inconsequential,
except with reference to flood or flash-flood events. The reason is that the number of
heavy precipitation events is so small over the course of the year has a small impact,
and is demonstrated by the great variability from year-to-year.

27. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
A rapid and steady increase in the number of days of precipitation.
28. How significant is the difference between the number of precipitation days

at the beginning of the period and the end?
Hover for the answer:
221 days at the beginning to 243 days at the end in the 10-year running mean.
29. Because of the number of occurrences, which type of data probably over-

biases this curve?
Hover for the answer:
The number of light precipitation events.
30. Did the precipitation curves give us any indications about the likelihood of

the correctness of the global warming theory. Some speculation, given what
we know now would be required.
Hover for the answer:
The precipitation data alone does not give us definitive information. It does indicate that
the amounts of precipitation and days of precipitation indicate increasing levels of
moisture which may be the result of increasing temperature, evaporation, and the
resulting condensation. The one exception may be the decreasing numbers of days of
moderate precipitation in the 1980s.

31. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
A general increase in evapotranspiration, with a peak in the late 1970s.
32. If global warming is correct, would we expect higher levels of precipitation,

and with those high levels of temperature, would that lead to higher levels of
actual evapotranspiration?
Hover for the answer:
According to global warming theory, we would expect similar or lower amounts of
precipitation, as well as increased levels of evapotranspiration due to the higher
temperatures.
33. What happened to actual evapotranspiration during the 1980s and what

would that indicate about global warming at this stage?
Hover for the answer:

Actual evapotranspiration was mostly stable, slightly declining, This, by itself, would
have indicated that global warming, as we currently understand the theory was not
acting the way we would expect.

34. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
A downward movement from beginning to end.
35. How do deficits at the beginning of the period compare with the end, and

what does that indicate about global warming inspired droughts?
Hover for the answer:
There have been increasing deficits at this location since the late 1970s, which
would agree with global-warming induced droughts.

36. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
An increase in the level of surpluses.
37. Are there any significant changes in the annual moisture surpluses over

this
period? What does this indicate about climatic change?
Hover for the answer:
Yes, surpluses peaked at the beginning of the 1970s and at the end of the 1980s, being
roughly stable in-between. This would not seem to support the idea of global warming
induced droughts.

38. In the figure above what is the overall trend represented by the data,

especially the 10-year running mean?
Hover for the answer:
The overall trend is an increase in runoff, which should translate into increase surface
and stream flow.
39. Compare the amount of runoff (available surface water) from the

beginning to the end of the period.
Hover for the answer:
An increase from 13.2 to 15.5 inches from the beginning to the end of the period. An
initial peak in the early 1970s reached 15.1 inches.
40. Is there anything distinctive about the pattern of runoff in the 5-year

running mean and the peaks that are being generated? It would seem to
mean that, at least during this period that precipitation was staying ahead of
evapotranspiration. If that is the case, what might it mean for global warming
and climate change?

Hover for the answer:
The 5-year running mean data seemed to run in 2-3 year cycles of maximums and
minimums, but the peaks of the cycles grew to higher and higher levels. This data, by
itself, would not appear to agree with the consequences of global warming, as we have
understood them to this point.



Project 2 - Part B
Your completed Project 2 Part B, should total approximately 8 pages, double-spaced,
roughly 2000 words.
For Part B, your essay should be addressing the questions/points below:
?

Do we see an overall warming of the environment?

Some theorists envisioned that we would see a more pronounced
warming of minimum temperatures than maximum temperatures. This might
result in a reduced range of temperatures. What trends does the data show?
?

Many theories that look at global warming envisage more drought and less
surplus water conditions for inland or continental locations. Therefore, we
might see some trends in precipitation amounts and the frequency of certain
amounts of precipitation. What do the trends show?
?

In reference to actual evapotranspiration, surplus/deficit conditions and
runoff/streamflow, what might we expect with a warming climate?
?

?

Are there clear-cut answers in the trends that we see?

What does that tell us about researching environmental issues like global
warming?
?

Are there other types of data or information that we need to look at to
make a worthwhile analysis? If so, what would they be?
?

?

What are the implications of the results of this study?

?

Can you link any of the climate trends to human agency?

If the trends continue in their current direction, what are the potential
implications for people living in the Wabash Watershed?
?

In short, we are looking at a specific geographic area, the Wabash Watershed. We
are looking at a specific time period, 1961-1990, utilizing raw, 5-year average, and
10-year average data, with respect to temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration,
moisture surplus, moisture deficit, and surface runoff. What does this data tell about
this region over this time period, and what does it indicate about the future? Does
this tell us anything, positively or negatively about global warming theory?
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself as you analyze and
report on this data and tell us what it all means. Good Luck!
This project is to be submitted using the drop box located in this module before the
close of Module 6. Be sure to submit your project in one Word file and document
your sources using APA format.
For additional information on how your work will be graded, review the Liberal Arts
Writing Rubric.