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.

Key figure from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that shows changes in global average surface temperature, global average sea level, and Northern Hemisphere snow cover from as far back as 1850.

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, from Yale Climate Connections, explores the 2014 melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet that captured headlines. Interviews, animations, and news broadcasts explore what the melting meant for both the future of some of the Antarctic glaciers and sea level rise, and informs the viewer how seafloor terrain influences the speed of ice sheet melt.

This video documents the challenges that climate change presents for four specific Arctic predators: polar bears, Arctic foxes, beluga whales, and walruses.

This video from ClimateCentral looks at the way climate conditions can affect vegetation in the West, and what influence this has on wildfires. Drought and rainfall can have very different wildfire outcomes, depending on vegetation type, extent, and location.

This interactive lets students determine the extent of average temperature change both in their community and anywhere else in the world, relative to average temperatures for the three decades between 1951 and 1980.

This interactive world map shows the impact of a global temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius on a variety of factors including agriculture, marine life, fires, weather patterns, and health. Hot Spots can be clicked on to get more specific information about the problems in different regions.

This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.

This interactive tool allows viewers to explore, by county, the areas of California threatened by a rise in sea level through this century.

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