Unit 8: Science Connection

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Weird Weather

Many parts of the United States seem to be drying up. The drought has been so bad in some parts of the country that state and local officials have limited the amount of water that people can use.

The drought is so bad in South Carolina that some lakes are drying up. In the 1950s, the Army Corps of Engineers flooded an abandoned town to make a lake in that state. Today, the water level in the lake is so low, the old buildings poke through the surface of the water.

The United States is not the only part of the world that has been having weird weather. In 2002 some parts of Europe and Asia were flooded in August. 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 have noticed that the temperature has been going up. The rise in temperature has been especially dramatic during the last 20 years.

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

The warmer temperatures can cause some areas to become drier. It can also cause more water to evaporate. That can make more rain 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 summer, the jet stream shifted farther south than it usually does. That shift in the jet stream changed the weather patterns in the United States as well as in parts of Europe and Asia.

Word Wise

extreme:
Very great or intense: The cold weather in Alaska can be extreme.

dramatic:
Forceful or intense: Lena's improvement in math class was dramatic.

atmosphere:
The air that surrounds Earth: The Moon is outside Earth's atmosphere.

alter:
To change or make different: Tanya decided to alter her hairstyle.

shift:
To move from one place to another: I shifted from the left to the right side of my chair.

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Activity

Imagine that you are a television weather reporter. Write a weather report using each of the Word Wise words above.

Data Hunt

The article mentions 2 different theories that scientists have for the cause of the weird weather. Make two lists, one for each theory. Give each list a name. Then list all the facts that back up each theory. When you have finished making your lists, look at each theory. Which one do you think is correct? Why?