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.
Students gain experience using a spreadsheet and working with others to decide how to conduct their model 'experiments' with the NASA GEEBITT (Global Equilibrium Energy Balance Interactive Tinker Toy). This activity helps students become more familiar with the physical processes that made Earth's early climate so different from that of today. Students also acquire first-hand experience with a limitation in modeling, specifically, parameterization of critical processes.
This classroom resource is a combination of 3 visualizations and accompanying text that illustrate how 3 key natural phenomena - cyclical changes in solar energy output, major volcanic eruptions over the last century, and El Nino/Nina cycles - are insufficient to explain recent global warming.
Students use the GLOBE Student Data Archive and visualizations to display current temperatures on a map of the world. They explore the patterns in the temperature map, looking especially for differences between different regions and hemispheres and zoom in for a closer look at a region that has a high density of student reporting stations (such as the US and Europe). Students compare and contrast the patterns in these maps looking for seasonal patterns.