b. Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.

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 activity, students review techniques used by scientists, as they analyze a 50-year temperature time series dataset. The exercise helps students understand that data typically has considerable variability from year to year and to predict trends or forecast the future, there is value in long-term data collection.

In this hands-on activity, students will learn about dendrochronology (the study of tree rings to understand ecological conditions in the recent past) and come up with conclusions as to what possible climatic conditions might affect tree growth in their region. Students determine the average age of the trees in their schoolyard, investigate any years of poor growth, and draw conclusions about the reasons for those years.

This activity offers an introduction to working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) by using field data on the Urban Heat Island Effect that was collected by students. The field data is entered in the GIS, displayed in a map, and analyzed.

This video highlights a team of scientists who work on reconstructing the mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, the end of the Permian Period, and wiped out the majority of life on our planet, resetting the evolution of life. Clues suggest that deadly bacteria might have set off a chemical chain reaction that poisoned the Permian seas and atmosphere.

This short video clip summarizes NOAA's annual State of the Climate Report for 2009. It presents a comprehensive summary of Earth's climate in 2009 and establishes the last decade as the warmest on record. Reduced extent of Arctic sea ice, glacier volume, and snow cover reflect the effects of rising global temperature.

This resource is about the urban heat island effect. Students access student-collected surface temperature data provided through the GLOBE program and analyze the data with My World GIS.

This activity introduces students to visualization capabilities available through NASA's Earth Observatory, global map collection, NASA NEO and ImageJ. Using these tools, students build several animations of satellite data that illustrate carbon pathways through the Earth system.

This video explores the work of environmentalist John Hart, a Professor of Environmental Science at U.C. Berkley. In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Dr. Hart has established an experimental laboratory in which he has artificially created and maintained a 3-degree increase in surface temperature of a plot of land, and documented the impact on plant species occupying the plot.