This animation depicts global surface warming as simulated by NCAR's Community Climate System Model (CCSM) Version 3. It shows the temperature anomalies relative to the end of the 19th century (1870-1899), both over the entire globe and as a global average. The model shows the temporary cooling effects during the 5 major volcanic eruptions of this time period, and then the model's estimates of warming under the different scenarios taken from the fourth IPCC report.
In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.
The figure summarizes some of the key variations amongst the six illustrative scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in considering possible future emissions of greenhouse gases during the 21st century.
One of a suite of online climate interactive simulations, this Greenhouse Gas Simulator uses the bathtub model to demonstrate how atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will continue to rise unless they are lowered to match the amount of CO2 that can be removed through natural processes.