This is the first of nine lessons in the Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change website. This lesson is an introduction to Earth's climate and covers key principles regarding Earth's unique climate, atmosphere, and regional and temporal climate differences.

In this activity, students work with climate data from the tropical Pacific Ocean to understand how sea-surface temperature and atmospheric pressure affect precipitation in the tropical Pacific in a case study format.

This 10 minute video builds connections between topics that are important in climate science such as: the impact of variations in Earth's orbit and wobble on it's axis on climate; how the cores being sampled fit into the bigger climate picture; connecting greenhouse gases to melting ice and sea level changes; the sensitivity of the ice melt / sea level rise relationship; and computer model simulations showing connections between ice sheets and sea level.
The companion website provides resources, an extensive list of activities, teacher guides, posters, and more.

In this activity, students compare carbon dioxide data from Mauna Loa Observatory, Barrow, Alaska, and the South Pole over the past 40 years. Students use the data to learn about what causes short-term and long-term changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This activity makes extensive use of Excel.

In this activity, students graph and analyze methane data, extracted from an ice core, to examine how atmospheric methane has changed over the past 109,000 years in a case study format. Calculating the rate of change of modern methane concentrations, they compare the radiative forcing of methane and carbon dioxide and make predictions about the future, based on what they have learned from the data and man's role in that future.

This unit allows students to investigate past changes in Earth's climate. Students first explore relationships in climate data such as temperature, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, and biodiversity. They then investigate solar radiation in more depth to learn about changes over time such as seasonal shifts. Students then learn about mechanisms for exploring past changes in Earth's climate such as ice cores, tree rings, fossil records, etc. Finally, students tie all these together by considering the feedbacks throughout the Earth system and reviewing an article on a past mass extinction event.

In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.

This high-resolution narrated video shows levels and movements of CO2 globally through the course of a year.

This is an activity designed to allow students who have been exposed to the El NiÃo-Southern Oscillation to analyze the La NiÃa mechanism and predict its outcomes in a case study format.

This peer-reviewed educational video explains human-caused climate change including the greenhouse effect. The role that greenhouse gases play in absorbing and re-emitting longwave radiation is illustrated. Information on how scientists know that the observed global warming is a result of human activities that burn fossil fuels is concisely explained.

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