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 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.

This NASA video discusses the impacts of the sun's energy, Earth's reflectance, and greenhouse gases on the Earth System.

In this activity, students use authentic Arctic climate data to unravel some causes and effects related to the seasonal melting of the snowpack and to further understand albedo.

In this short video, atmospheric scientist Scott Denning gives a candid and entertaining explanation of how greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere warm our planet.

This is a video overview of the history of climate science, with the goal of debunking the idea that in the 1970s, climate scientists were predicting global cooling.

This interactive contains four animated slides that introduce the greenhouse effect. An additional animation offers to 'explore more'.

This NASA video reviews the role of the sun in driving the climate system. It uses colorful animations to illustrate Earth's energy balance and how increased greenhouse gases are creating an imbalance in the energy budget, leading to warming. The video also reviews how the NASA satellite program collects data on the sun.

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 interactive visualization adapted from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey illustrates the concept of albedo, which is the measure of how much solar radiation is reflected from Earth's surface.

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