For this lesson, the guiding Concept Question is: What is climate change and how does climate relate to greenhouse gas concentrations over time? This activity is the second lesson in a nine-lesson module 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change' produced by the International Year of Chemistry project (2011).

In this activity, students examine images of alpine glaciers to develop an understanding of how glaciers respond to climate change. They record, discuss, and interpret their observations. They consider explanations for changes in the size and position of glaciers from around the world. They develop an understanding that the melting (retreat) of glaciers is occurring simultaneously on different continents around the world, and, thus, they represent evidence of global climate change.

In this activity, students compare carbon dioxide (CO2) data from Mauna Loa Observatory, Barrow (Alaska), and the South Pole over the past 40 years to help them better understand what controls atmospheric carbon dioxide. This activity makes extensive use of Excel.

This is a lab about evidence for past climate change as captured in ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Students investigate climate changes going back thousands of years by graphing and analyzing ice core data from both Greenland and Antarctica. They use information about natural and human-caused changes in the atmosphere to formulate predictions about Earth's climate.

This video features research conducted at University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, which studies isotopes of hydrogen trapped in ice cores to understand climate changes in the past.

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.

This short video describes how the compression of Antarctic snow into ice captures air from past atmospheres. It shows how ice cores are drilled from the Antarctic ice and prepared for shipment and subsequent analysis.

This NBC Learn video features climate scientists doing their research on Mt. Kilimanjaro to study the climate of the past. The scientists put the recently observed changes on the glacier into perspective by comparing past climate fluctuations, stressing that the current observed rate of change is unprecedented.
Note: you will need to scroll down the Changing Planet video page to get to this video.

In this video, a team of paleontologists, paleobotanists, soil scientists, and other researchers take to the field in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin to document how the climate, plants, and animals there changed during the Paleocene- Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when a sudden, enormous influx of carbon flooded the ocean and atmosphere for reasons that are still unclear to scientists. The PTEM is used as an analog to the current warming occurring. The scientists' research may help inform our understanding of current increases in carbon in the atmosphere and ocean and the resulting impact on ecosystems. Supporting materials include essay and interactive overview of animals that existed in the Basin after the PETM event.

This animation shows the Arctic sea ice September (minimum) extents from 1979-2012.