This activity from NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory introduces students to the current scientific understanding of the greenhouse effect and the carbon cycle. The activity leads them through several interactive tasks investigating recent trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Students analyze scientific data and use scientific reasoning to determine the causes responsible for these recent trends. By studying carbon cycle science in a visual and interactive manner, the activity provides students with a conceptual framework with which to address the challenges of a changing climate.
This activity illustrates the carbon cycle using an age-appropriate hook, and it includes thorough discussion and hands-on experimentation. Students learn about the geological (ancient) carbon cycle; they investigate the role of dinosaurs in the carbon cycle, and the eventual storage of carbon in the form of chalk. Students discover how the carbon cycle has been occurring for millions of years and is necessary for life on Earth. Finally, they may extend their knowledge to the concept of global warming and how engineers are working to understand the carbon cycle and reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
In this intermediate Excel activity, students import US Historical Climate Network mean temperature data into Excel from a station of their choice. They are then guided through the activity on how to use Excel for statistical calculations, graphing, and linear trend estimates. The activity assumes some familiarity with Excel and graphing in Excel.
This video documents the impact of the 2011 drought on the water supply of two Texas towns. It discusses how the higher temperatures have increased the evaporation from open reservoirs, resulting in a drop in their water levels. The use of water in fighting wildfires has also contributed to this drawdown. While some jurisdictions have been able to develop pipelines to other sources, others have had to resort to trucking water in.
This is a short NASA video on the water cycle. The video shows the importance of the water cycle to nearly every natural process on Earth and illustrates how tightly coupled the water cycle is to climate.
This collection of photos from the NASA Climate website features images related to global change. Not all images show change caused directly by climate change and energy use, and descriptive captions indicate causes for change in most of the images.
This video provides an excellent summary of the role of the oceans and ocean life and makes the point that despite the important role of life in the oceans, there is still much to be learned about the details of the oceanic biota.
This lesson is an investigation of the impact of climate change on the phenology of a variety of taxa, including migrating birds and hibernating animals in the Colorado Rockies. Students analyze 40 years of data collected by Billy Barr from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
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.
In this interactive, regionally-relevant carbon cycle game, students are challenged to understand the role of carbon in global climate change. They imagine that they are carbon molecules and travel via different processes through carbon reservoirs on the Colorado Plateau (the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah). This game can be adapted to other regions.