In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.
In this activity, students calculate temperatures during a time in the geologic record when rapid warming occurred using a well known method called 'leaf-margin analysis.' Students determine the percentage of the species that have leaves with smooth edges, as opposed to toothed, or jagged, edges. Facsimiles of fossil leaves from two collection sites are examined, categorized, and the data is plugged into an equation to provide an estimate of paleotemperature for two sites in the Bighorn Basin. It also introduces students to a Smithsonian scientist who worked on the excavation sites and did the analysis.
This short video shows an example of melting alpine glaciers in the Austrian Alps (Goldberg Glacier). Disappearing alpine glaciers have social and environmental impacts, including the decline of fresh water supplies and contributing to sea level rise.
This narrated slide presentation shows the carbon cycle, looking at various parts of this biogeochemical sequence by examining carbon reservoirs and how carbon is exchanged among them and the atmosphere.
In this activity, students consider the impact and sustainability of use of different classes of biofuels on the economy, the environment, and society. Students also learn about bioelectricity and how converting biomass to electricity may be the more efficient way to fuel cars in the 21st century.
In this activity, students examine the energy required to make a cheeseburger, calculate its associated carbon footprint, and discuss the carbon emissions related to burger production. The activity is geared toward Canadian students but can be customized to the consumption patterns and carbon footprint of American students since the resource references the amount of burgers consumed by Americans in addition to Canadians.
This video, from the US Department of Energy, shows the basics of how a PV panel converts light radiated from the sun into usable power, whether on the electric grid or off, and without emissions or the use of fossil fuels.
In this classroom activity, students access sea surface temperature and wind speed data from a NASA site, plot and compare data, draw conclusions about surface current and sea surface temperature, and link their gained understanding to concerns about global climate change.