This is a sequence of 5 classroom activities focusing on the El NiÃo climate variability. The activities increase in complexity and student-directedness. The focus of the activities is on accessing and manipulating real data to help students understand El NiÃo as an interaction of Earth systems.

In this lesson, students explore several facets of the impact of volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere. Students analyze three types of visual information: a graph of aerosol optical depth v. global temperature, a global map with temperature anomalies, and an ash plume photograph. In the hands-on activity, students use math to determine the rate and estimated time of arrival of an ash plume at an airfield.

This static graph of changes in CO2 concentrations goes back 400,000 years, showing the dramatic spike in recent years.

In this video, a team of paleontologists, paleobotanists, soil scientists, and other researchers take to the field in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin to document how the climate, plants, and animals there changed during the Paleocene- Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) when a sudden, enormous influx of carbon flooded the ocean and atmosphere for reasons that are still unclear to scientists. The PTEM is used as an analog to the current warming occurring. The scientists' research may help inform our understanding of current increases in carbon in the atmosphere and ocean and the resulting impact on ecosystems. Supporting materials include essay and interactive overview of animals that existed in the Basin after the PETM event.

This visualization graphically displays temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as derived from ice core data from 400,000 years ago to 1950. The data originates from UNEP GRID Arendal's graphic library of CO2 levels from Vostok ice core.

This detailed animated map shows global weather and climate events from the beginning of 2009 to the present. As the animation plays, specific events are highlighted to provide context and details for the viewer.

In this activity, students will use oxygen isotope values of two species of modern coral to reconstruct ambient water temperature over a four-year period. They use Microsoft Excel, or similar application, to create a spreadsheet of temperature values calculated from the isotope values of the corals by means of an algebraic equation. Students then use correlation and regression techniques to determine whether isotope records can be considered to be good proxies for records of past temperatures.

This graph, based on key ice core data sets and recent monitoring programs, shows the variations in concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere during the last 400,000 years.

This activity with a lab report instructs students to solve and plot 160,000 years' worth of ice core data from the Vostok ice core using Excel or similar spreadsheets to analyze data. Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions and the past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.

Hands-on laboratory activity that allows students to investigate the effects of distance and angle on the input of solar radiation at Earth's surface, the role played by albedo, the heat capacity of land and water, and how these cause the seasons. Students predict radiative heating based on simple geometry and experiment to test their hypotheses.