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.

This video from NASA features scientists who describe the role of salt in the oceans and global oceanic circulation, especially the effect of salinity on the density of water and its global circulation, with reference to global climate change.

This teaching activity is an introduction to how ice cores from the cryosphere are used as indicators and record-keepers of climate change as well as how climate change will affect the cryosphere. Students learn through a guided web exercise how scientists analyze ice cores to learn about past climate conditions, how melting sea and land ice will contribute to sea level rise, and what areas of the world would be at risk if Antarctic and/or Greenland ice sheets were to melt away.

This activity focuses on reconstructing the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) as an example of a relatively abrupt global warming period. Students access Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sediment core data with Virtual Ocean software in order to display relevant marine sediments and their biostratigraphy.

Developed for Alaska Native students, this activity can be customized for other regions. Students interview elders or other long-term residents of the community to document their knowledge of local changes to the landscape and climate. Based on the information and photos they acquired from the interview, students return to photo locations to observe and record changes. Finally, they develop ideas about potential impacts of a warming climate to the ecosystem that surrounds them.

This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.

This video adapted from Bullfrog Films examines the effects of global warming on the Pacific island of Samoa with testimonials from an expert in both western science knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge. Background essay and discussion questions are included.

This video provides background information and teaching tips about the history and relevance of phenology and seasonal observations of plants and animals within the context of rural Wisconsin.

Two graphs from the NASA Climate website illustrate the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The NASA plot is annotated with temperature-impacting historic events, which nicely connect an otherwise challenging graphic to real-world events.

This web-based activity tackles the broad reasons for undertaking ocean exploration - studying the interconnected issues of climate change, ocean health, energy and human health. Students examine the types of technology ocean scientists use to collect important data.

This activity with a lab report instructs students to solve and plot 160,000 years' worth of ice core data from the Vostok ice core using Excel or similar spreadsheets to analyze data. Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions and the past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.

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