This data viewing tool from NOAA is highly engaging and offers nearly instant access to dozens of datasets about Earth. Users select from atmosphere, ocean, land, cryosphere, and climate, and drill down from there into more detailed categories.
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.
In this activity, students work in groups, plotting carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and estimating the rate of change over five years. Stacked together, the overheads for the whole class show an increase on carbon dioxide over five years and annual variation driven by photosynthesis. This exercise enables students to practice basic quantitative skills and understand how important sampling intervals can be when studying changes over time. A goal is to see how small sample size may give incomplete picture of data.
In this activity, students estimate the drop in sea level during glacial maxima, when ice and snow in high latitudes and altitudes resulted in lower sea levels. Students estimate the surface area of the world's oceans, use ice volume data to approximate how much sea levels dropped, and determine the sea-level rise that would occur if the remaining ice melted.
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.
This activity uses geophysical and geochemical data to determine climate in Central America during the recent past and to explore the link between climate (wet periods and drought) and population growth/demise among the Maya. Students use ocean drilling data to interpret climate and to consider the influence of climate on the Mayan civilization.
This is a classroom activity about the forcing mechanisms for the most recent cold period: the Little Ice Age (1350-1850). Students receive data about tree ring records, solar activity, and volcanic eruptions during this time period. By comparing and contrasting time intervals when tree growth was at a minimum, solar activity was low, and major volcanic eruptions occurred, they draw conclusions about possible natural causes of climate change and identify factors that may indicate climate change.
A collection of repeat photography of glaciers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The photos are taken years apart at or near the same location, illustrating how dramatically glacier positions can change even over a relatively short period in geological time: 60 to 100 years. Background essay and discussion questions are included.