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Nancy Harris, Thailynn Munroe and Kelly Levin, Global Forest Watch


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Interactive Media
  • Data

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West

6 Graphics Explain the Climate Feedback Loop Fueling U.S. Fires


  • This article by Global Forest Watch utilizes six graphics and includes many links to additional information in order to explain a multi-part feedback loop of worsening fires and climate change.
  • Students will see very recent data presented in graphs and charts, an animated map, and an infographic.
Teaching Tips


  • The images include:
  • An interactive tree cover chart showing tree loss over the years (click the button "Explore on GFW" to see this one).
  • An infographic explaining fires and the climate feedback loop.
  • A line graph showing average annual temperatures increasing in California, Oregon, and Washington
  • A map showing cumulative burned area from 2000-2020 in the Western USA.
  • A bar graph showing emissions from California, Oregon, and Washington compared to historical 21st-century averages.
  • A graph showing global rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 1980-2018.
  • The article includes helpful descriptions of the visual data and provides additional context explaining the fire and climate change feedback cycle.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand how temperature is related to fire risk.
  • Students should be familiar with reading bar graphs and line graphs.


Scientist Notes
Data on forest fires as presented in the charts is valid. However, "Below Normal Range" category should have been given a separate classification. The resource is recommended since this is a minor limitation.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
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