Mt. Pinatubo and the Atmosphere

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.

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April King
Shane Berry
Bruce Howard
Challenger Center for Space Science Education

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Instructors may want to kick off the activity with the volcanic plume analysis before they assign the reading at the beginning. Also, educators may want to access the additional links page to get students drawn into the subject matter and curious about Mount Pinatubo.

Educators might not choose to include the plume height images of the Iceland volcano.

Extension activity: compare the effect of different volcanic eruptions and the amount of aerosols in the stratosphere.

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