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.
In this worksheet-based activity, students review global visualizations of incoming sunlight and surface temperature and discuss seasonal change. Students use the visualizations to support inquiry on the differences in seasonal change in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and how land and water absorb and release heat differently. The activity culminates in an argument about why one hemisphere experiences warmer summers although it receives less total solar energy.
This animated video outlines Earth's energy. The video presents a progression from identifying the different energy systems to the differences between external and internal energy sources and how that energy is cycled and used.
This NASA video reviews the role of the sun in driving the climate system. It uses colorful animations to illustrate Earth's energy balance and how increased greenhouse gases are creating an imbalance in the energy budget, leading to warming. The video also reviews how the NASA satellite program collects data on the sun.
This activity introduces students to different forms of energy, energy transformations, energy storage, and the flow of energy through systems. Students learn that most energy can be traced back to nuclear fusion on the sun.
Students perform a lab to explore how the color of materials at Earth's surface affect the amount of warming. Topics covered include developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and making interpretations to explain why dark-colored materials become hotter.
A simple click-through animation from Scripps Institute's Earthguide program breaks the complex topic of the global energy balance into separate concepts. Slides describe the different pathways for incoming and outgoing radiation.