The Global Climate Animations site provides animations of month-by-month global maps of a broad variety of atmospheric parameters that are important for the study of weather and climate, including air temperature, precipitation, wind, barometric pressure, and net radiation. The animations can be downloaded or run directly from a Web Browser, and the user can control whether the animation steps forward one month at a time, runs uninterrupted, or toggles back and forth between two successive months. The animations are attractive in appearance, and use intuitively appropriate color palettes (e.g. blue for wetter). It's a nice touch that the site was apparently the work of a student, as it won two awards for best student work.
Although the site has the potential to be a powerful educational tool, both the community and specialist reviewers point out that the instructor and students have to bring a lot of prior knowledge to the table to make effective use of this site. The site does not include any documentation for teachers: no lesson plans or teaching suggestions, no description of how the data were obtained, no explanation how the parameters shown on the maps relate to atmospheric processes, no references from which teachers or students could learn more. One of the scientist reviewers points out that there is a danger that people will think that the maps are showing observational data, whereas in fact they are the output of a computer model that uses data assimilation techniques.
This resource could benefit from the development of a companion pedagogical resource that would guide students (of various levels) through an exploration of selected animations in such a way that they would "discover" some of the temporal and spatial patterns that underlie interpretations of atmospheric and climatic processes.
Kim Kastens, 16 Nov 2006