This resource is a website that is a self-contained, multi-part introduction to how climate models work. The materials include videos and animations about understanding, constructing and applying climate models.
This Flash-based simulation explores the relationship between carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide using two main displays: (1) graphs that show the level of human-generated CO2 emissions, CO2 removals, and the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and (2) a bathtub animation that shows the same information as the graphs. The bathtub simulation illustrates the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
This color-coded map displays a progression of changing five-year average global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 through 2010. The final frame represents global temperature anomalies averaged from 2006 to 2010. The temperature anomalies are computed relative to the base period 1951-1980.
This video provides an overview of how computer models work. It explains the process of data assimilation, which is necessary to ensure that models are tied to reality. The video includes a discussion of weather models using the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-5) model and climate models using the MERRA (Modern Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications) technique.
In this video, students learn that scientific evidence strongly suggests that different regions on Earth do not respond equally to increased temperatures. Ice-covered regions appear to be particularly sensitive to even small changes in global temperature. This video segment adapted from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center details how global warming may already be responsible for a significant reduction in glacial ice, which may in turn have significant consequences for the planet.
In this activity, students create graphs of real temperature data to investigate climate trends by analyzing the global temperature record from 1867 to the present. Long-term trends and shorter-term fluctuations are both evaluated. The data is examined for evidence of the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate forcing mechanisms on the global surface temperature variability. Students are prompted to determine the difficulties scientists face in using this data to make climate predictions.
This video discusses carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere that have increased due to the burning of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transportation, and industrial processes. Video includes history of Keeling and his research, as well as the seasonal fluctuations in CO2.