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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans, 45 minutes
  • Videos, 51 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Worksheets
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, California


Google Docs, Google Sheets, PDF, Microsoft Excel, YouTube Video

Analyzing the Rise of U.S. Wildfires

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  • In this lesson, students will learn about the effects of rising temperatures on forests, such as the Redwood forest, and wildfires, complete a graphing exercise, answer questions, and have a class discussion about the topics presented.
  • The lesson plan contains a teacher guide, student worksheet, data tables, article, and links to additional information.
Teaching Tips


  • The connection between temperature and acres burned will slowly be revealed as students create the graph.
  • The data tables are provided in Excel and Google Sheets.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The y-axis on the right side is missing 0°F. That might be tricky for some students. Explain that 0° is actually there. It is simply not labeled.
  • Feel free to extend the data to include more recent years (2019 and on). Use NOAA for temperatures and NIFC for acres burned.
  • Temperature anomalies must always use a baseline value. The baseline used in this data from NOAA is the mean temperature from 1901-2000. Note that other mean temperature ranges may also be used, such as the 1950-1980 mean or the mean temperature prior to the Industrial Revolution.
  • Teachers must create a free account to access the materials.


Scientist Notes

Rising mean temperatures cause pine beetles to infest on trees thereby causing tree dryness and loss, which in turn accelerates the occurrence of wildfires. This resource explores the trend of rising temperatures and wildfire events in the Western part of the USA. It is suitable for students to examine these relationships and the causal factors. Thus, the resource is recommended.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.RST.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form and translate information expressed visually or mathematically into words.
      • 11-12.RST.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
  • Science
    • 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.
      • HS.ESS2.4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
      • HS.LS2.6 Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
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