e. Airborne particulates, called "aerosols," have a complex effect on Earth's energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing and releasing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and manmade processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities.

In this lesson, students explore several facets of the impact of volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere. Students analyze three types of visual information: a graph of aerosol optical depth v. global temperature, a global map with temperature anomalies, and an ash plume photograph. In the hands-on activity, students use math to determine the rate and estimated time of arrival of an ash plume at an airfield.

This climate change interactive modeling simulation simulates the interactions among different sets of variables related to climate change. This is a facilitated guided-inquiry exercise.

This NASA video provides an introduction to aerosols: their varied sources, brief lifetimes and erratic behavior. Also reviews the GLORY satellite and how it would have helped researchers determine the global distribution of aerosol particles by unraveling the microphysical and chemical properties of aerosols. GLORY failed to reach orbit in May, 2011.

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