Climate Connections: Visiting Students in North Carolina (Episode 1)

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Detailed Description

America has questions about climate change, and the USGS has real answers. In this episode of Climate Connections, USGS scientists answer questions gathered from middle and high school students in Mt. Airy, NC.

  • Do all scientists agree that climate change is occurring?
  • Could climate change impact fishing?
  • Will the climate change abruptly or slowly over time?
  • What is geothermal energy and how does it impact the climate?


Episode Number: 152

Date Taken:

Length: 00:06:14

Location Taken: Mt. Airy, NC, US



Jessica Robertson: Hi! I'm Jessica Robertson and this is

USGS Climate Connections, where your climate change

questions are answered by USGS scientists. In this

episode, we talked to middle and high school students

from Mount Airy, North Carolina. We were beyond

impressed not only by how many questions they had,

but how advanced and challenging the questions were.

Let's go ahead and meet the students and see some of

the questions they had for our scientists.

Question 1. Elizabeth Dinkins: My name is Elizabeth

Dinkins. I go to Mount Airy High School. I would like to

know if all scientists agree that climate change is actually occurring.

Robert Hirsch: I'm Bob Hirsch of the U.S. Geological

Survey. Elizabeth, let me try to answer your question.

There is a strong scientific consensus that there is

global warming occurring and that human activities are

at least a part of the driving mechanisms for that. We

know a few things particularly well like that there is

more warming occurring near the poles than there is in

the mid-latitudes. And one of the very difficult parts of

climate change research is really trying to untangle the

part which is natural variability from the part that is

driven by human activities. But as I said, the scientific

consensus is quite strong that humans are contributing

to that warming.

Question 2. Hassan Moore: Hi, my name is Hassan

Moore and I'm a sixth grader at Mount Airy Middle

School. I like to fish. Will climate change affect the water levels and populations of fish?

Elda Varela-Acevedo: Hi Hassan! I'm Elda Varela-

Acevedo from the USGS and I'm the Climate Change

and Fish Habitat Project Coordinator. To address your

question, we do expect to see certain changes with

climate change. Warm-water fish such as smallmouth

bass are expected to expand their range, which means

they might be found further north and you'll be able to

catch them in more areas. However, other fish species

that are cold-water fish species such as lake trout will

probably see their habitat area decline, meaning that

they'll be found in less areas.

Also, the season in which you fish may be affected by

climate change. For example, for people that ice fish,

they’ll probably find that the earlier ice melt in the

spring will probably decrease their ice fishing season.

So in summary, the type of fish you fish for and when

and where you fish it may be affected by climate

change. Thank you, Hassan. That was a great question

and I hope I answered it today.

Question 3. Hayden Culler: My name is Hayden Culler.

I'm in eighth grade. Could the climate dramatically or

abruptly change? Or will it happen slowly overtime?

question is yes in both instances. The climate of the

Earth has been shown to change both rapidly and

slowly. Those slow changes can take as long as millions

of years to hundreds of thousands of years to tens of

thousands of years. And those abrupt changes can take

place in a matter of one to two years in certain locations.

Jessica Robertson: Thank you Joan. So Hayden, as an

example, research has shown that there may be an

abrupt period of increased drought in the southwest

during the 21st century. Also, sea level may rise slowly

or rapidly depending on how much and how fast the

ice sheets and glaciers around the world melt. Abrupt

changes in climate, should they occur, will cause

substantial disruptions to society and natural systems

with little time to prepare.

Question 4. Joao Bellon: Hi, my name is Joao Bellon

and I go to Mount Airy High School. The floor that we

are in currently is heated by geothermal energy and

my question was what are the advantages and

disadvantages of geothermal energy and the climate affects that it has?

Brenda Pierce: Hi! I'm Brenda Pierce. I manage the

Energy Resources Program at the U.S. Geological

Survey. You've asked a very advanced question and so

let me breakdown the answer into several parts. First,

let me define a couple of terms. Geothermal energy is

energy harnessed from the internal heat of the Earth

and used to produce energy sources or electricity.

Geothermal is a form of renewable energy and

renewable energy is that type of energy that is

constant or replenish-able like wind, solar, and

geothermal. Second, your question about its

relationship to climate change. Geothermal energy

emits very little CO2, which a greenhouse gas that has

been linked to global warming. So, that means

geothermal energy may have the potential to offset

higher CO2 emitting energy sources in the future.

Jessica Robertson: That's it for this episode. Join us

again next time for USGS Climate Connections. I'm Jessica Robertson.