In this series of activities students investigate the effects of black carbon on snow and ice melt in the Arctic. The lesson begins with an activity that introduces students to the concept of thermal energy and how light and dark surfaces reflect and absorb radiant energy differently. To help quantify the relationship between carbon
and ice melt, the wet lab activity has students create ice samples both with and without black carbon and then compare how they respond to radiant energy while considering implications for the Arctic.
In this activity, students examine global climate model output and consider the potential impact of global warming on tropical cyclone initiation and evolution. As a follow-up, students read two short articles on the connection between hurricanes and global warming and discuss these articles in context of what they have learned from model output.
In this classroom activity, students analyze visualizations and graphs that show the annual cycle of plant growth and decline. They explore patterns of annual change for the globe and several regions in each hemisphere that have different land cover and will match graphs that show annual green-up and green-down patterns with a specific land cover type.
This animation illustrates how the hardiness zones for plants have changed between 1990 and 2006 based on an extensive updating of U.S. Hardiness Zones using data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental United States.
This energy game activity engages students in learning about energy sources. This game demonstrates that energy, the environment, and economics are closely tied together. During the course of the game and in the discussion afterward, students learn the concepts of scarcity, opportunity cost, net energy profit, law of diminishing returns, and that availability does not mean usefulness.
In this activity, students calculate temperatures during a time in the geologic record when rapid warming occurred using a well known method called 'leaf-margin analysis.' Students determine the percentage of the species that have leaves with smooth edges, as opposed to toothed, or jagged, edges. Facsimiles of fossil leaves from two collection sites are examined, categorized, and the data is plugged into an equation to provide an estimate of paleotemperature for two sites in the Bighorn Basin. It also introduces students to a Smithsonian scientist who worked on the excavation sites and did the analysis.
In this learning activity, students use a web-based carbon calculator to determine their carbon footprint on the basis of their personal and household habits and choices. Students identify which personal activities and household choices produce the most CO2 emissions, compare their carbon footprint to the U.S. and global averages, and identify lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their footprint.
This short video makes the case that rapid climate change affects the whole planet, but individuals can make a difference and make their carbon footprint smaller. Common suggestions are identified for young children to consciously consider what they can do.
This video is the first of a three-video series from the Sea Change project. It features the field work of scientists from the US and Australia looking for evidence of sea level rise during the Pliocene era when Earth was (on average) about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius hotter than it is today.