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.

Students use the GLOBE Student Data Archive and visualizations to display current temperatures on a map of the world. They explore the patterns in the temperature map, looking especially for differences between different regions and hemispheres and zoom in for a closer look at a region that has a high density of student reporting stations (such as the US and Europe). Students compare and contrast the patterns in these maps, looking for seasonal patterns.

In this activity students download satellite images displaying land surface temperature, snow cover, and reflected short wave radiation data from the NASA Earth Observation (NEO) Web site. They then explore and animate these images using the free tool ImageJ and utilize the Web-based analysis tools built into NEO to observe, graph, and analyze the relationships among these three variables.

In this activity, students develop an understanding of the relationship between natural phenomena, weather, and climate change: the study known as phenology. In addition, they learn how cultural events are tied to the timing of seasonal events. Students brainstorm annual natural phenomena that are tied to seasonal weather changes. Next, they receive information regarding the Japanese springtime festival of Hanami, celebrating the appearance of cherry blossoms. Students plot and interpret average bloom date data from over the past 1100 years.

This activity from NOAA Ocean Service is about using aerial photographs to assess the impact of extreme weather events such as Hurricane Katrina. The activity features aerial views of Biloxi, MS post-Katrina and enables students to see evidence of the power of extreme weather on the environment.

This lesson explores El Nino by looking at sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and wind vectors in order to seek out any correlations there may be among these three variables, using the My NASA Data Live Access Server. The lesson guides the students through data representing the strong El Nino from 1997 to 1998. In this way, students will model the methods of researchers who bring their expertise to study integrated science questions.

This activity is a hands-on guided inquiry activity designed to highlight the role of an ice shelf on slowing the movement of continental ice sheets in Antarctica. Students build a model of Antarctica and both continental glaciers and ice shelves using paper models of the land and slime for glaciers and ice. Students use their model to explore the impact of recent and potential ice shelf melting and break-up.

This activity engages learners to make a model of sediment cores using different kinds of glass beads and sand. They learn how to examine the types, numbers, and conditions of diatom skeletons in the model sediment cores and tell something about the hypothetical paleoclimate that existed when they were deposited. The students get to be climate detectives.

In this activity, students make a model sea floor sediment core using two types of buttons to represent fossil diatoms. They then compare the numbers of diatom fossils in the sediment at different depths to determine whether the seas were free of ice while the diatoms were alive.

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