Students consider why the observed atmospheric CO2 increase rate is only ~60% of the CO2 loading rate due to fossil fuel combustion. They develop a box-model to simulate the atmospheric CO2 increase during the industrial era and compare it to the historic observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The model is then used to forecast future concentrations of atmospheric CO2 during the next century.
This activity in a case study format explores ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet by way of outlet glaciers that flow into the ocean. Students do basic calculations and learn about data trends, rates of change, uncertainty, and predictions.
In this activity, students use a spreadsheet to calculate the net carbon sequestration in a set of trees; they will utilize an allometric approach based upon parameters measured on the individual trees. They determine the species of trees in the set, measure trunk diameter at a particular height, and use the spreadsheet to calculate carbon content of the tree using forestry research data.
This video provides an overview of how computer models work. It explains the process of data assimilation, which is necessary to ensure that models are tied to reality. The video includes a discussion of weather models using the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-5) model and climate models using the MERRA (Modern Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications) technique.
In this video, a spokesperson for the National Climactic Data Center describes the methods of using satellites (originally designed for observing changes in the weather) to study changes in climate from decade to decade. The video clearly illustrates the value of satellite data and begins to address connections between weather and climate.
In this JAVA-based interactive modeling activity, students are introduced to the concepts of mass balance, flow rates, and equilibrium using a simple water bucket model. Students can vary flow rate into the bucket, initial water level in the bucket, and residence time of water in the bucket. After running the model, the bucket's water level as a function of time is presented graphically and in tabular form.
This short video from Climate Central explains the technology used to monitor changes in Arctic sea ice. Long-term tracking (since the late 1970's) shows Arctic sea ice has been on a steady decline and this could have significant implications for global temperatures.
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.
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.