This is a sequence of 5 classroom activities focusing on the El NiÃo climate variability. The activities increase in complexity and student-directedness. The focus of the activities is on accessing and manipulating real data to help students understand El NiÃo as an interaction of Earth systems.

This three-panel figure is an infographic showing how carbon and oxygen isotope ratios, temperature, and carbonate sediments have changed during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. The figure caption provides sources to scientific articles from which this data was derived. A graphic visualization from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the rapid decrease in carbon isotope ratios that is indicative of a large increase in the atmospheric greenhouse gases CO2 and CH4, which was coincident with approximately 5C of global warming.

This lesson explores El NiÃo by looking at sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and wind vectors in order to seek out any correlations there may be among these three variables using the My NASA Data Live Access Server. The lesson guides the students through data representing the strong El NiÃo from 1997 to 1998. In this way, students will model the methods of researchers who bring their expertise to study integrated science questions.

This video features University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Magnuson, who studies the ecology of freshwater systems. He explains the difference between weather and climate using data on ice cover from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Analysis of the data indicates a long-term trend that can be connected to climate change.

These graphs show carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The graphs display recent measurements as well as historical long term measurements. The related website summarizes in graphs the recent monthly CO2, the full CO2 Record, the annual Mean CO2 Growth Rate, and gives links to detailed CO2 data for this location, which is one of the most important CO2 tracking sites in the world.

In this activity, students are introduced to tree rings by examining a cross section of a tree, also known as a 'tree cookie.' They discover how tree age can be determined by studying the rings and how ring thickness can be used to deduce times of optimal growing conditions. Next, they investigate simulated tree rings applying the scientific method to explore how climatic conditions varied over time.

In this activity, students critically evaluate the arguments about climate change raised in a climate contrarian newspaper op-ed. This exercise is intended to strengthen student critical thinking and content knowledge at the end of unit on the climate system.

In this activity, students analyze data maps of sea surface temperature anomalies for a 14-year interval and create an ENSO time line in a case study format. Based on their findings, students determine the recurrence interval of the ENSO system.

In this video, a PhD Student from the University of Maine explains how ice cores are used to study global climate change.

This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.