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 is an interactive table with a comprehensive list of 29 greenhouse gases, their molecular structures, a chart showing a time series of their atmospheric concentrations (at several sampling sites), their global warming potential (GWP) and their atmospheric lifetimes. References are given to the data sets that range from the mid-1990s to 2008.
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 Changing Planet video documents scientists' concerns regarding how melting Arctic sea ice will increase the amount of fresh water in the Beaufort Gyre, which could spill out into the Atlantic and cause major climate shifts in North America and Western Europe. The video includes interviews with scientists and a look at the basics of how scientists measure salinity in the ocean and how ocean circulation works in the Arctic.
This well-designed experiment compares CO2 impacts on salt water and fresh water. In a short demonstration, students examine how distilled water (i.e., pure water without any dissolved ions or compounds) and seawater are affected differently by increasing carbon dioxide in the air.
In this experiment, students investigate the importance of carbon dioxide to the reproductive growth of a marine microalga, Dunalliela sp. (Note that the directions are for teachers and that students protocol sheets will need to be created by teachers.)
This visualization illustrates the carbon cycle throughout the oceanic zones, beginning at the surface and traveling to the deep. The concept map-like connections encourage students to link the abiotic and biotic interactions within the oceanic food web.
This is a basic animation/simulation with background information about the greenhouse effect by DAMOCLES. The animation has several layers to it that allow users to drill into more detail about the natural greenhouse effect and different aspects of it, including volcanic aerosols and human impacts from burning fossil fuels.