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 NASA animation depicts thermohaline circulation in the ocean and how it relates to salinity and water density. It illustrates the sinking of water in the cold, dense ocean near Iceland and Greenland. The surface of the ocean then fades away and the animation pulls back to show the global thermohaline circulation system.
This interactive/applet allows the user to explore the potential increase in carbon emissions over the next 50 years, subject to modifications made by the user in various technologies that impact carbon output. Part of the Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change module.
This short video describes how the compression of Antarctic snow into ice captures air from past atmospheres. It shows how ice cores are drilled from the Antarctic ice and prepared for shipment and subsequent analysis.
One of a suite of online climate interactive simulations, this Greenhouse Gas Simulator uses the bathtub model to demonstrate how atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will continue to rise unless they are lowered to match the amount of CO2 that can be removed through natural processes.
This teaching activity addresses regional variability as predicted in climate change models for the next century. Using real climatological data from climate models, students will obtain annual predictions for minimum temperature, maximum temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation for Minnesota and California to explore this regional variability. Students import the data into a spreadsheet application and analyze it to interpret regional differences. Finally, students download data for their state and compare them with other states to answer a series of questions about regional differences in climate change.
The NOAA Sea Level Trends map illustrates U.S. regional and some international trends in sea level, with arrows representing the direction and magnitude of change. Students can investigate sea level changes around the U.S. and some worldwide using an interactive map interface with supporting data plots and tables.
This interactive visualization provides a clear, well-documented snapshot of current and projected values of several climate variables for local areas in California. The climate variables include observed and projected temperatures, projected snowpack, areas vulnerable to flooding due to sea level rise, and projected increase in wildfires. The projected values come from expert sources and well-established climate models.
This set of animations and interactive simulations from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University helps students develop an understanding of models used to understand the Earth System. Students consider the types of data that need to be included in a climate model, looking at inputs and outputs as well as variables, such as land surface, and how to measure changes of different parts of Earth's surface over time.
Students consider why the observed atmospheric CO2 increase rate is only ~60% of the CO2 loading rate due to fossil fuel combustion. They develop a box-model to simulate the atmospheric CO2 increase during the industrial era and compare it to the historic observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The model is then used to forecast future concentrations of atmospheric CO2 during the next century.