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.

This is a polar map of permafrost extent in the Northern Hemisphere. A sidebar explains how permafrost, as it forms and later thaws, serves as both a sink and source for carbon to the atmosphere. Related multimedia is a slideshow of permafrost scientists from U. of Alaska, Fairbanks, collecting permafrost data in the field.

Students explore the carbon cycle and the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature. Students create and compare graphs of carbon dioxide and temperature data from one local (Mauna Loa, Hawaii) meteorological station and one NASA global data set. These graphs, as well as a global vegetation map and an atmospheric wind circulation patterns diagram, are used as evidence to support the scientific claims they develop through their analysis and interpretation.

This activity utilizes labs, online resources, and student ideas to build an understanding of polar climates, how changes in polar oceans can affect coastal climates, and how changes in polar regions affect climates elsewhere on Earth.

This activity teaches students about the albedo of surfaces and how it relates to the ice-albedo feedback effect. During an experiment, students observe the albedo of two different colored surfaces by measuring the temperature change of a white and black surface under a lamp.

In this visualization students can explore North American fossil fuel CO2 emissions at very fine space and time scales. The data is provided by the Vulcan emissions data project, a NASA/DOE funded effort under the North American Carbon Program (NACP).

This video segment demonstrates carbon dioxide's role in the greenhouse effect and explains how increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere may be contributing to global warming. Video includes an unusual demonstration of C02's heat-absorbing properties, using infrared film, a researcher's face, and a stream of C02 between them.

This series of activities introduce students to polar oceanography, polar climate and how events that occur in oceans thousands of kilometers away affect them and the mid-latitudes using maps, images, lab experiments and online data tools. Students explore how conditions are changing in the Polar Regions and the possible impacts upon life in the United States and other mid-latitude nations.

In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.

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