This is the first of nine lessons in the "Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change" website. This lesson is an introduction to Earth's climate and covers key principles regarding Earth's unique climate, atmosphere, and regional and temporal climate differences.
In this activity, students compare carbon dioxide (CO2) data from Mauna Loa Observatory, Barrow (Alaska), and the South Pole over the past 40 years to help them better understand what controls atmospheric carbon dioxide. This activity makes extensive use of Excel.
This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation). It also focuses on lost or degraded energy.
The Climate Momentum Simulation allows users to quickly compare the resulting sea level rise, temperature change, atmospheric CO2, and global CO2 emissions from six different policy options: 1) Business As Usual, 2) March 2009 Country Proposals, 3) Flatten CO2 emissions by 2025, 4) 29% below 2009 levels by 2040, 5) 80% reduction of global fossil fuel plus a 90% reduction in land use emissions by 2050, and 6) 95 reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020). Based on the more complex C-ROADS simulator.
This activity leads students through a sequence of learning steps that highlight the embedded energy that is necessary to produce various types of food. Students start by thinking through the components of a basic meal and are later asked to review the necessary energy to produce different types of protein.
In this video clip from Earth: The Operators' Manual, host Richard Alley discusses China's efforts to develop clean energy technologies and to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, by building coal plants using CO2 sequestration technology. (scroll down page for video)
Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.