In this activity students learn how Earth's energy balance is regulating climate. This activity is lesson 4 in the nine-lesson module Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change.

An applet about the Milankovitch cycle that relates temperature over the last 400,000 years to changes in the eccentricity, precession, and orbital tilt of Earth's orbit.

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 is an animated interactive simulation that illustrates differential solar heating on a surface in full sunlight versus in the shade.

This short animation compares graphs of the natural variation in the sun's energy striking the upper atmosphere vs global surface temperature over a 30-year period to make the point that natural variations do not account for the rising trend line in surface temperatures.

In this activity, learners use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, the exercise gradually adds complexity by incorporating albedo, then a 1-layer atmosphere, then a 2-layer atmosphere, and finally a complex atmosphere with latent and sensible heat fluxes. With each step, students compare the modeled surface temperature to Earth's actual surface temperature, thereby providing a check on how well each increasingly complex model captures the physics of the actual system.

This video provides a good overview of ice-albedo feedback. Albedo-Climate feedback is a positive feedback that builds student understanding of climate change.

In this 6-part activity, students learn about climate change during the Cenozoic and the abrupt changes at the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary (65.5 million years ago), the Eocene/Oligocene boundary (33.9 million years ago), and the Paleocene/Eocene boundary (55.8 million years ago).

This short video uses animated imagery from satellite remote sensing systems to illustrate that Earth is a complex, evolving body characterized by ceaseless change. Adapted from NASA, this visualization helps explain why understanding Earth as an integrated system of components and processes is essential to science education.

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.