Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2023-5
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2023-5
27 Nov 2023
 | 27 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

The weather today rocks or sucks for my tree: Exploring the understanding of climate impacts on forests at high school level through tweets

Thomas Mölg, Jan Christoph Schubert, Annette Debel, Steffen Höhnle, Kathy Steppe, Sibille Wehrmann, and Achim Bräuning

Abstract. With the progression of global warming, impacts on the human sphere will undoubtedly increase. One prominent impact example at mid latitudes is the stress of forests under climate change, which the project "BayTreeNet" (https://baytreenet.de/) addresses from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Scientists from physical climatology, dendroecology, and educational research collaborate to examine how long-term changes in weather patterns affect the state of trees, and how the atmosphere/tree relation can be used to the advantage of improving the communication of climate change effects to, in particular, high school students. This article presents a 1-week case study for summer 2021, when a distinct variability in weather patterns induced significant tree responses. The students of seven selected partner schools commented these responses online through a framework including live weather and tree data as well as tweets, which was incorporated in their educational geography program. The results demonstrate that the students succeed in verbalizing the measured weather and, furthermore, manage to draw linkages to the stem diameter changes of trees. Problems arise with the use of less perceivable variables like the sap flow in the trees; also, the student posts exhibit a shortcoming in establishing causal connections. Hence, the case study points to a discrepancy between describing basic environmental information and appreciating, or understanding, the underlying mechanistic links. This point will serve to refine future classroom concepts and, moreover, to enhance the communication of climate change effects on forests for the general public.

Thomas Mölg, Jan Christoph Schubert, Annette Debel, Steffen Höhnle, Kathy Steppe, Sibille Wehrmann, and Achim Bräuning

Status: open (until 29 Mar 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Thomas Mölg, Jan Christoph Schubert, Annette Debel, Steffen Höhnle, Kathy Steppe, Sibille Wehrmann, and Achim Bräuning
Thomas Mölg, Jan Christoph Schubert, Annette Debel, Steffen Höhnle, Kathy Steppe, Sibille Wehrmann, and Achim Bräuning

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Short summary
We examine the understanding of weather and climate impacts on forest health in high school students. Climate physics, tree ring science and educational research collaborate to provide an online platform that captures the students’ observations, showing they verbalize the measured weather and the basic tree responses well. However, students hardly detect the causal connections. This result will help refine future classroom concepts and public climate change communication on changing forests.
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