Students examine data from Mauna Loa to learn about CO2 in the atmosphere. The students also examine how atmospheric CO2 changes through the seasonal cycle, by location on Earth, and over about 40 years and more specifically over 15 years. Students graph data in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and draw conclusions about hemispherical differences in CO2 release and uptake.
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.
The activity follows a progression that examines the CO2 content of various gases, explores the changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 from 1958 to 2000 from the Mauna Loa Keeling curve, and the relationship between CO2 and temperature over the past 160,000 years. This provides a foundation for examining individuals' input of CO2 to the atmosphere and how to reduce it.
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).
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.
This interactive shows the different components of the ocean biological pump, i.e., how carbon in the form of either plankton or particles moves into the ocean's depths. It illustrates the situation at the surface, 0-100 meters, 100-500 meters, and below 500 meters.
This video segment from 'Earth: The Operators' Manual' explores how we know that today's increased levels of CO2 are caused by humans burning fossil fuels and not by some natural process, such as volcanic out-gassing. Climate scientist Richard Alley provides a detailed step-by-step explanation that examines the physics and chemistry of different "flavors" or isotopes of carbon in Earth's atmosphere.
With this carbon/temperature interactive model, students investigate the role of atmospheric carbon in the greenhouse effect using a relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.