Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Atmospheric Science [3], and Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences [4]. The selection of much of the framework’s content was informed by these documents, thereby ensuring that the ESS core ideas we present are not only current and accurate but also relevant; they express content that the science research communities themselves recognize as being most important.

The framework includes a broader range of ideas in ESS than previous efforts related to science education standards, largely because of pertinent recent developments in ESS and the increasing societal importance of Earth-related issues. Astronomy and space exploration have prompted new ideas about how the universe works and of humans’ place in it. Advances in imaging the interior of Earth have revised conceptions of how the planet formed and continues to evolve. Vast amounts of new data, especially from satellites, together with modern computational models, are revealing the complexity of the interacting systems that control Earth’s ever-changing surface. And many of the conclusions drawn from this science, along with some of the evidence from which they are drawn, are accessible to today’s students. Consequently, the story of Earth and the evolution of its systems, as it can be understood at the K-12 level, is much richer than what has been taught at this level in the past. Thus some of the framework’s essential elements differ considerably from previous standards for K-12 science and engineering education.

The most important justification for the framework’s increased emphasis on ESS is the rapidly increasing relevance of earth science to so many aspects of human society. It may seem as if natural hazards, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, have been more active in recent years, but this is primarily because the growing population of cities has heightened their impacts. The rapidly rising number of humans on the planet—doubling in number roughly every 40 years—combined with increased global industrialization, has also stressed limited planetary

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