This lesson explores the chemistry of some of the gases that affect Earth's climate. It is the 3rd in a series of 9 lessons from an online module entitled 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change'.
This activity describes the flow of carbon in the environment and focuses on how much carbon is stored in trees. It goes on to have students analyze data and make calculations about the amount of carbon stored in a set of trees at three sites in a wooded area that were to be cut down to build a college dormitory.
This short cartoon video uses a simple baseball analogy (steroid use increases probability of hitting home runs) to explain how small increases in greenhouse gases can cause global temperature changes and increase the probability of extreme weather events.
This video segment from 'Earth: The Operators' Manual' explores how we know that today's increased levels of CO2 are caused by humans burning fossil fuels and not by some natural process, such as volcanic out-gassing. Climate scientist Richard Alley provides a detailed step-by-step explanation that examines the physics and chemistry of different "flavors," or isotopes, of carbon in Earth's atmosphere.
This is a figure from the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report 4 on atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide over the last 10,000 years (large panels) and since 1750 (inset panels).
Students consider why the observed atmospheric CO2 increase rate is only ~60% of the CO2 loading rate due to fossil fuel combustion. They develop a box-model to simulate the atmospheric CO2 increase during the industrial era and compare it to the historic observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The model is then used to forecast future concentrations of atmospheric CO2 during the next century.
This short video describes the Hestia project - a software tool and data model that provide visualizations of localized CO2 emissions from residential, commercial, and vehicle levels, as well as day versus night comparisons, in the city of Indianapolis.
This lesson covers different aspects of the major greenhouse gases - water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and CFCs - including some of the ways in which human activities are affecting the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases. This is lesson six in a nine-lesson module about climate change.