This classroom activity is aimed at an understanding of different ecosystems by understanding the influence of temperature and precipitation. Students correlate graphs of vegetation vigor with those of temperature and precipitation data for four diverse ecosystems, ranging from near-equatorial to polar, and spanning both hemispheres to determine which climatic factor is limiting growth.
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.
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.
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 is a short NASA video on the water cycle. The video shows the importance of the water cycle to nearly every natural process on Earth and illustrates how tightly coupled the water cycle is to climate.
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.
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 lesson is a lab in which students use thermometers, white and dark paper, and lamps to measure differences in albedo between the light and dark materials. Connections are made to albedo in Antarctica.
This activity introduces students to the process of converting sunlight into electricity through the use of photovoltaics (solar cells). Students complete a reading passage with questions and an inquiry lab using small photovoltaic cells.