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.

This NASA video reviews the role of the sun in driving the climate system. It uses colorful animations to illustrate Earth's energy balance and how increased greenhouse gases are creating an imbalance in the energy budget, leading to warming. The video also reviews how the NASA satellite program collects data on the sun.

This activity introduces students to different forms of energy, energy transformations, energy storage, and the flow of energy through systems. Students learn that most energy can be traced back to nuclear fusion on the sun.

Students perform a lab to explore how the color of materials at the Earth's surface affect the amount of warming. Topics covered include developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and making interpretations to explain why dark colored materials become hotter.

A simple click-through animation from Scripps Institute's Earthguide program breaks the complex topic of the global energy balance into separate concepts. Slides describe the different pathways for incoming and outgoing radiation.

This is an animation from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Students Guide to Global Climate Change, one of a series of web pages and videos about the basics of the greenhouse effect.

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.

This short video, is the fifth in the National Academies Climate Change, Lines of Evidence series. It focuses on greenhouse gases, climate forcing (natural and human-caused), and global energy balance.

This NASA video discusses the impacts of the sun's energy, Earth's reflectance and greenhouse gases on the Earth System.

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.

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