This lesson explores the chemistry of some of the greenhouse gases that affect Earth's climate. Third in a series of 9 lessons from an online module entitled 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change'.

This is a multi-faceted activity that offers students a variety of opportunities to learn about permafrost and the role of methane in thawing permafrost.

In this short, hands-on activity, students build simple molecular models of 4 atmospheric gases (O2, N2, C02, and methane), compare their resonant frequencies, and make the connection between resonant frequency and the gas's ability to absorb infrared radiation.

Using real data from NASA's GRACE satellites, students will track water mass changes in the U.S., data that measures changes in ice, surface and especially groundwater. The background information includes an animated video about where water exists and how it moves around Earth, as well as short video clips to introduce the GRACE mission and explain how satellites collect data. Students will estimate water resources using heat-map data, create a line graph for a specific location, then assess trends and discuss implications.

This activity illustrates the importance of water resources and how changes in climate are closely linked to changes in water resources. The activity could fit into many parts of a science curriculum, for example a unit on water could be connected to climate change.

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 activity involves plotting and comparing monthly data on atmospheric C02 concentrations over two years, as recorded in Mauna Loa and the South Pole, and postulating reasons for differences in their seasonal patterns. Longer-term data is then examined for both sites to see if seasonal variations from one site to the other carry over into longer term trends.

In this experiment, students investigate the importance of carbon dioxide to the reproductive growth of a marine microalga, Dunalliela sp. (Note that the directions are for teachers and that students protocol sheets will need to be created by teachers.)

This multi-part activity introduces users to normal seasonal sea surface temperature (SST) variation as well as extreme variation, as in the case of El NiÃo and La NiÃa events, in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Via a THREDDS server, users learn how to download seasonal SST data for the years 1982 to 1998. Using a geographic information system (GIS), they visualize and analyze that data, looking for the tell-tale SST signature of El NiÃo and La NiÃa events that occurred during that time period. At the end, students analyze a season of their own choosing to determine if an El NiÃo or La NiÃa SST pattern emerged in that year's data.

This model of ocean-atmosphere interaction shows how carbon dioxide gas diffuses into water, causing the water to become more acidic. The video demonstration and instruction provide an explanation of the chemistry behind this change and the consequences of ocean acidification. The video also addresses a misconception about how ocean acidification affects shelled organisms.

This short activity provides a way to improve understanding of a frequently-published diagram of global carbon pools and fluxes. Students create a scaled 3-D visual of carbon reservoirs and the movement of carbon between reservoirs.

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