This resource is a website that is a self-contained, multi-part introduction to how climate models work. The materials include videos and animations about understanding, constructing and applying climate models.
Students explore the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 40 years with an interactive online model. They use the model and observations to estimate present emission rates and emission growth rates. The model is then used to estimate future levels of carbon dioxide using different future emission scenarios. These different scenarios are then linked by students to climate model predictions also used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This animation depicts global surface warming as simulated by NCAR's Community Climate System Model (CCSM) Version 3. It shows the temperature anomalies relative to the end of the 19th century, both over the entire globe and as a global average. The model shows the temporary cooling effects during 5 major volcanic eruptions and estimates future temperature trends based on different amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
This long classroom activity introduces students to a climate modeling software. Students visualize how temperature and snow coverage might change over the next 100 years. They run a 'climate simulation' to establish a baseline for comparison, do a 'experimental' simulation and compare the results. Students will then choose a region of their own interest to explore and compare the results with those documented in the IPCC impact reports. Students will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the process and power of climate modeling.
This video shows where and how ice cores are extracted from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The cores are cut, packaged, flown to the ice core storage facility in Denver, further sliced into samples, and shipped to labs all over the world where scientists use them to study indicators of climate change from the past.
This set of animations and interactive simulations from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University helps students develop an understanding of models used to understand the Earth System. Students consider the types of data that need to be included in a climate model, looking at inputs and outputs as well as variables, such as land surface, and how to measure changes of different parts of Earth's surface over time.
This video considers the current estimates of sea level rise as possibly too conservative and discusses more recent data on ice melt rates coming from Antarctica and Greenland, showing rates of melt at up to 5 times as rapid. Scientists discuss what levels and rates of sea level rise have occurred in the past, including the Pliocene, which demonstrated 1m rise every 20 years.