In this activity for undergraduate students, learners build a highly simplified computer model of thermohaline circulation (THC) in the North Atlantic Ocean and conduct a set of simulation experiments to understand the complex dynamics inherent in this simple model.
This well-designed experiment compares CO2 impacts on salt water and fresh water. In a short demonstration, students examine how distilled water (i.e., pure water without any dissolved ions or compounds) and seawater are affected differently by increasing carbon dioxide in the air.
This video from Earth: The Operators' Manual describes how fossil fuels are made, and it compares how long it takes to create coal, oil and natural gas (millions of years), with how fast we're using them (hundreds of years). Narrated by Dr. Richard Alley.
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 video describes how field research -- in this case, making water measurements in rugged mountain locations -- helps us to understand the complex relationships among changing climate, populations, and water usage.
In this activity, students engage in a simulation of the international negotiation process in order to convey how the international community is responding to climate change. Participants learn firsthand about the interests of different countries and the range of policy responses to mitigate future climate change.
This series of five activities about ocean acidification incorporates real data from NOAA. The activities are organized as a pathway, with five levels increasing in sophistication, and different data-based inquiry activities. Note that this is a "beta" version - revisions possible.
Climate scientist Richard Alley narrates this video that examines studies conducted more than 50 years ago by the U.S. Air Force, which wanted to understand how the warming effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect missile warfare. The video then focuses on the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand, using the location to explain how glaciers form, and how they help scientists understand past atmospheric conditions and climate. Supplemental resources are available through the website.
Developed for Alaska Native students, this activity can be customized for other regions. Students interview elders or other long-term residents of the community to document their knowledge of local changes to the landscape and climate. Based on the information and photos they acquired from the interview, students return to photo locations to observe and record changes. Finally, they develop ideas about potential impacts of a warming climate to the ecosystem that surrounds them.