This is a sequence of 5 classroom activities focusing on the El Niño climate variability. The activities increase in complexity and student-directedness. The focus of the activities is on accessing and manipulating real data to help students understand El Niño as an interaction of Earth systems.
This collection of photos from the NASA Climate website features images related to global change. Not all images show change caused directly by climate change and energy use, and descriptive captions indicate causes for change in most of the images.
In this activity, students will use oxygen isotope values of two species of modern coral to reconstruct ambient water temperature over a four-year period. They use Microsoft Excel, or similar application, to create a spreadsheet of temperature values calculated from the isotope values of the corals by means of an algebraic equation. Students then use correlation and regression techniques to determine whether isotope records can be considered to be good proxies for records of past temperatures.
This visualization graphically displays temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as derived from ice core data from 400,000 years ago to 1950. The data originates from UNEP GRID Arendal's graphic library of CO2 levels from Vostok ice core.
This activity with a lab report instructs students to solve and plot 160,000 years' worth of ice core data from the Vostok ice core using Excel or similar spreadsheets to analyze data. Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions and the past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.
Two graphs from the NASA Climate website illustrate the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The NASA plot is annotated with temperature-impacting historic events, which nicely connect an otherwise challenging graphic to real-world events.
This activity addresses naturally occurring climate change involving ENSO (El-Niño Southern Oscillation). In this activity, students play the role of a policy maker in Peru. First, they determine what sort of ENSO variation is occurring. Then, they must decide how to allocate Peru's resources to manage for possible weather-related problems.
In this classroom activity, students analyze visualizations and graphs that show the annual cycle of plant growth and decline. They explore patterns of annual change for the globe and several regions in each hemisphere that have different land cover and will match graphs that show annual green-up and green-down patterns with a specific land cover type.