b. Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.

In this hands-on activity, students will learn about dendrochronology (the study of tree rings to understand ecological conditions in the recent past) and come up with conclusions as to what possible climatic conditions might affect tree growth in their region. Students determine the average age of the trees in their schoolyard, investigate any years of poor growth, and draw conclusions about the reasons for those years.

In this activity, students research various topics about ocean health, e.g. overfishing, habitat destruction, invasive species, climate change, pollution, and ocean acidification. An optional extension activity has them creating an aquatic biosphere in a bottle experiment in which they can manipulate variables.

A video from the Extreme Ice Survey in which Dr. Tad Pfeffer and photographer Jim Balog discuss the dynamics of the Columbia glacier's retreat in recent years through this time-lapse movie. Key point: glacier size is being reduced not just by glacial melting but due to a shift in glacial dynamics brought on by climate change.

This animation starts with a schematic illustration of glacier growth and then introduces six different methods that researchers use when studying ice cores in order to deduce the climate of the past. The research methods that are briefly introduced are ice layering, pollen, oxygen isotopes, ice crystals and gases trapped inside, and other chemistry.

This is a graph of marine air temperature anomalies over the past 150 years. Five different marine air temperature anomaly datasets from different sources are compared on the one graph.

This is a global land surface air temperature graphic showing four overlapping time-series datasets based on records from 1961 - 2000.

This graphic contains ocean heat content (OHC) anomaly trends from 1945 to 2009 for the top 700 meters of the ocean. It is composed of long-term datasets from seven different references. The graphic can be manipulated and downloaded as a picture.

This video contains a visualization and explanation of the Arctic sea ice and how it has changed over the 25 years. In September 2012, the National Snow and Ice Data Center recorded the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice. The video discusses the climate importance of ice thickness and reflective properties.

This graphic represents the decline in Arctic sea ice extent from the 1950's to 2010 during the month of September. The image has three graphed and superimposed datasets, demonstrating the overall decline in Arctic sea ice extent over a 60-year time scale.

This is a graphic that illustrates anomalies in tropospheric temperatures over a 50-year time period and is based on 7 different datasets superimposed on each other. It is one of 9 climate indicators documented in the AMS State of the Climate report.

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