In this activity, students work in groups, plotting carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and estimating the rate of change over five years. Stacked together, the overheads for the whole class show an increase on carbon dioxide over five years and annual variation driven by photosynthesis. This exercise enables students to practice basic quantitative skills and understand how important sampling intervals can be when studying changes over time. A goal is to see how small sample size may give incomplete picture of data.
This NASA animation of the Five-Year Average Global Temperature Anomalies from 1881 to 2009 shows how temperature anomalies have varied in the last 130 years. The color-coded map displays a long-term progression of changing global surface temperatures from 1881 to 2009. Dark red indicates the greatest warming and dark blue indicates the greatest cooling.
This NOAA visualization video on YouTube shows the seasonal variations in sea surface temperatures and ice cover for the 22 years prior to 2007 based on data collected by NOAA polar-orbiting satellites (POES). El NiÃo and La NiÃa are easily identified, as are the trends in decreasing polar sea ice.
This collection of photos from the NASA Climate website features images of global change, such as floods, wildfires, and retreating glaciers. Not all images show change caused directly by climate change and energy use, and descriptive captions indicate causes for change in most of the images.
These graphs show carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The graphs display recent measurements as well as historical long term measurements. The related website summarizes in graphs the recent monthly CO2, the full CO2 Record, the annual Mean CO2 Growth Rate, and gives links to detailed CO2 data for this location, which is one of the most important CO2 tracking sites in the world.
This video is narrated by climate scientist Richard Alley. It examines studies US Air Force conducted over 50 years ago on the warming effects of CO2 in the atmosphere and how that could impact missile warfare. The video then focuses on the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand; the glacier is used to demonstrate a glacier's formation, depth of snow fall in the past, and understand atmospheric gases and composition during the last Ice Age. Supplemental resources are available through the website.
This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.
This video segment describes climate data collection from Greenland ice cores that indicate Earth's climate can change abruptly over a single decade rather than over thousands of years. The narrator describes how Earth has undergone dramatic climate shifts in relatively short spans of time prior to 8000 years ago. The video and accompanying essay provide explanations of the differences between weather and climate and how the climate itself had been unstable in the past, with wide variations in temperature occurring over decadal timescales.