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 activity, students study the relationship between changing climate conditions and the distribution of plants across North America, using a unique tool called the Pollen Viewer. This tool allows the user to animate the retreat of the North American glacier and the migration of plant species during the waning period of the most recent Ice Age.

In this video segment, two students discuss the greenhouse effect and visit with research scientists at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, who research the effects of global climate change on organisms in a controlled facility. Their current research (as of 2002) focuses on the response to increased quantities of CO2 in a number of different model ecosystems.

In this activity, students critically evaluate the arguments about climate change raised in a climate contrarian newspaper op-ed. This exercise is intended to strengthen student critical thinking and content knowledge at the end of a unit on the climate system.

This is an interactive website that provides descriptive information and data related to ten key climate indicators. These climate indicators and related resources show global patterns and data that are intuitive and compelling teaching tools.

This interactive displays how climate variables are changing over time (temperature, CO2, Arctic sea ice, solar flux, etc.) in graphical form. Students can examine data over the last 20 years or archived data.

This short video clip summarizes NOAA's annual State of the Climate Report for 2009. It presents a comprehensive summary of Earth's climate in 2009 and establishes the last decade as the warmest on record. Reduced extent of Arctic sea ice, glacier volume, and snow cover reflect the effects of rising global temperature.

This in-depth interactive slideshow about how climate models work is embedded with a lot of background information. It also describes some of the projected climate change impacts to key sectors such as water, ecosystems, food, coasts, health. (scroll down page for interactive)

This video profiles glaciologist Lonnie Thompson and his research into tropical mountain glaciers as a way to understand climate history. Beginning in the 1970s, Thompson recognized that tropical ice cores contain information relating to tropical climate phenomena, including El NiÃo events and monsoons. These phenomena are not archived in ice from polar regions.

This series of visualizations show the annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2010. The decrease in Arctic sea ice over time is shown in an animation and a graph plotted simultaneously, but can be parsed so that the change in sea ice area can be shown without the graph.

This video is part two of a seven-part National Academies series, Climate Change: Lines of Evidence. The video outlines, with the use of recent research and historical data, how we know that the Earth is warming.

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