In this activity, students utilize a set of photographs and a 30 minute video on weather to investigate extreme weather events. They are posed with a series of questions that ask them to identify conditions predictive of these events, and record them on a worksheet. Climate and weather concepts defined.
In this interactive, regionally-relevant carbon cycle game, students are challenged to understand the role of carbon in global climate change. They imagine that they are carbon molecules and travel via different processes through carbon reservoirs on the Colorado Plateau (the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah). This game can be adapted to other regions.
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 documents the impact of the 2011 drought on the water supply of two Texas towns. It discusses how the higher temperatures have increased the evaporation from open reservoirs, resulting in a drop in their water levels. The use of water in fighting wildfires has also contributed to this drawdown. While some jurisdictions have been able to develop pipelines to other sources, others have had to resort to trucking water in.
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 lesson is an investigation of the impact of climate change on the phenology of a variety of taxa, including migrating birds and hibernating animals in the Colorado Rockies. Students analyze 40 years of data collected by Billy Barr from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
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.
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 video is from the Energy 101 video series. It explains the process for converting micro-algae into fuel and makes the case that algae-based biofuels hold enormous potential for helping reduce our dependence on imported oil.
This video segment describes climate data collection from Greenland ice cores that indicate Earth's climate can change abruptly over a single decade rather than over thousands of years. The narrator describes how Earth has undergone dramatic climate shifts in relatively short spans of time prior to 8000 years ago. The video and accompanying essay provide explanations of the differences between weather and climate and how the climate itself had been unstable in the past, with wide variations in temperature occurring over decadal timescales.