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 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 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 video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.
This video highlights a variety of current climate change research initiatives from scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It describes the changing dynamics of Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers and the impacts of reduced Arctic sea ice on people, animals, and global albedo and sea levels, while providing a glimpse of the excitement of this field research through interviews and video clips of scientists in the field.
In this lesson, students explore several facets of the impact of volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere. Students analyze three types of visual information: a graph of aerosol optical depth v. global temperature, a global map with temperature anomalies, and an ash plume photograph. In the hands-on activity, students use math to determine the rate and estimated time of arrival of an ash plume at an airfield.
This interactive animation focuses on the carbon cycle and includes embedded videos and captioned images to provide greater clarification and detail of the cycle than would be available by a single static visual alone.
This is a collection of five short videos - The Arctic Ice Cap, Sampling the Ice, Arctic Fisheries, Natives Feel Effect and Arctic Energy -- that can be played separately or in sequence. They show how climate change is affecting fishing, native populations and access for the oil and gas industry in the Arctic. The videos include personal reflections by writers Andrew C. Revkin and Simon Romero , scientists and residents about their experience of the impacts of the climate change in the Arctic.
In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.