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 visualization graphically displays temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as derived from ice core data from 400,000 years ago to 1950. The data originates from UNEP GRID Arendal's graphic library of CO2 levels from Vostok ice core.

These graphs show carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The graphs display recent measurements as well as historical long term measurements. The related website summarizes in graphs the recent monthly CO2, the full CO2 Record, the annual Mean CO2 Growth Rate, and gives links to detailed CO2 data for this location, which is one of the most important CO2 sites in the world.

This NBC Learn video features climate scientists doing their research on Mt. Kilimanjaro to study the climate of the past. The scientists put the recently observed changes on the glacier into perspective by comparing past climate fluctuations, stressing that the current observed rate of change is unprecedented.

This animation describes how citizen observations can document the impact of climate change on plants and animals. It introduces the topic of phenology and data collection, the impact of climate change on phenology, and how individuals can become citizen scientists.

Coral Reefs in Hot Water is a short video displaying computerized data collected on the number of reefs impacted by coral bleaching around the world.

This video examines the thawing of permafrost due to changes in climate and shows examples of the impacts that warming temperatures have on permafrost in the Arctic, including the release of the greenhouse gas methane. Dramatic results are shown, including sink holes forming on the landscape and beneath buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, causing some communities to relocate.

This video introduces phytoplankton - the base of the marine food web, the source of half of the oxygen on Earth, and an important remover of CO2 from the atmosphere. The video also explains how satellites are used to monitor phytoplankton and how warming waters and acidification negatively affect phytoplankton.

In this activity, students learn about the tools and methods paleoclimatologists use to reconstruct past climates. In constructing sediment cores themselves, students will achieve a very good understanding of the sedimentological interpretation of past climates that scientists can draw from cores.

This color-coded map displays a progression of changing five-year average global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 through 2010. The final frame represents global temperature anomalies averaged from 2006 to 2010. The temperature anomalies are computed relative to the base period 1951-1980.

This video documents how scientists, using marine algae, can study climate change in the past to help understand potential effects of climate change in the future.

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