Lesson 13.5: Real World Connection

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Weird Weather

Many parts of the United States seem to be drying up. Not long ago, the drought was very bad in some parts of the country. State and local officials limited the amount of water that people could use.

The drought was so bad in South Carolina that some lakes were drying up. In the 1950s, an abandoned town in South Carolina was flooded to make it into a lake. Recently, the water level in the lake was so low that the old buildings were poking up through the water.

The United States is not the only part of the world that has been having weird weather. Some parts of Europe and Asia were flooded last year. Floods in China swept through normally dry areas. Nearly 1,000 people died in China alone as a result of flooding.

Is It Climate Change?

Scientists have theories about the wild weather. “Global climate change...has caused these extreme events,” said Ding Yuhui, a scientist in China.

Scientists have been keeping track of Earth's temperature for about 100 years. They noticed that the average temperature has been going up, especially during the last 20 years.

According to most scientists, global warming causes the change in Earth's climate. Global warming happens because of certain kinds of pollution. Cars and many factories make carbon dioxide gas, which is given off into the air. When the gas rises into the atmosphere, it acts like a blanket, warming Earth.

The warmer temperatures can cause some areas to become drier than ever before. They also cause more water to evaporate. That can lead to more rainfall and snowstorms in some areas.

The Jet Stream

Other scientists disagree. They say a change in the jet stream caused the strange weather. The jet stream is a wind that blows around Earth. It blows storms around the globe. A change in the direction in which the jet stream flows alters weather systems and can cause wacky weather.

During one recent summer, the jet stream shifted farther south than it usually does. That changed the weather patterns in the United States as well as in parts of Europe and Asia.

Word Wise

drought:
Long period of time with no rain: Our lawn turned brown because of the drought.

abandoned:
Gave up: The ice on the lake was cracking, so we abandoned our plans to go ice-skating.

theory:
Idea explaining the cause of something: Zoologists have many theories about how animals become extinct.

alter:
Make changes: If you write too much in your book report, alter it before handing it in.

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Activity

In the word drought, you pronounce the sound of "ou" as you do in the word "out". You do not pronounce the letters "gh" at all because they are silent. Say the word "drought" aloud to a partner.

Like drought, each of the following words contains the letters o-u-g-h-t. Say these words aloud to your partner. You may use a dictionary to check pronunciations.

brought
fought
thought
sought

Talk about:

  • how each of the o-u-g-h-t words is pronounced
    (Tell whether or not the word rhymes with “drought.”)
  • the meaning of each o-u-g-h-t word

Data Hunt

Weird Weather Quiz
Answer questions by estimating the temperature presented in the Global Average Temperature graph.