In this Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter, students select, explore, and analyze satellite imagery. They do so in the context of a case study of the origins of atmospheric carbon monoxide and aerosols, tiny solid airborne particles such as smoke from forest fires and dust from desert wind storms. They use the software tool ImageJ to animate a year of monthly images of aerosol data and then compare the animation to one created for monthly images of carbon monoxide data. Students select, explore and analyze satellite imagery using NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) satellite data and NEO Image Composite Explorer (ICE) tool to investigate seasonal and geographic patterns and variations in concentration of CO and aerosols in the atmosphere.
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.
This video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.
This video addresses two ways in which black carbon contributes to global warming - when in the atmosphere, it absorbs sunlight and generates heat, warming the air; when deposited on snow and ice, it changes the albedo of the surface. The video is effective in communicating about a problem frequently underrepresented in discussions of climate change and also public health.
This is a classroom activity about the forcing mechanisms for the most recent cold period: the Little Ice Age (1350-1850). Students receive data about tree ring records, solar activity, and volcanic eruptions during this time period. By comparing and contrasting time intervals when tree growth was at a minimum, solar activity was low, and major volcanic eruptions occurred, they draw conclusions about possible natural causes of climate change and identify factors that may indicate climate change.
Students will use real satellite data to determine 1) where the greatest concentrations of aerosols are located during the course of a year in the tropical Atlantic region and 2) their source of origin. This is an inquiry-style lesson where students pull real aerosol data and attempt to identify trends among data sets.