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 activity, students are guided through the process of locating and graphing web-based environmental data that has been collected by GLOBE Program participants using actual data collected by students in Pennsylvania and comparing them to their local climatic boundary conditions. This activity highlights the opportunities for using GLOBE data to introduce basic concepts of Earth system science.
This activity focuses on applying analytic tools such as pie charts and bar graphs to gain a better understanding of practical energy use issues. Also provides experience with how different types of data collected affect the outcome of statistical visualization tools.
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 NOAA visualization video on YouTube shows the seasonal variations in sea surface temperatures and ice cover for the 22 years prior to 2007 based on data collected by NOAA polar-orbiting satellites (POES). El NiÃo and La NiÃa are easily identified, as are the trends in decreasing polar sea ice.
This video addresses acidification of the ocean and the ecological and economic implications of the resulting pH change on marine life. It includes information about how ocean acidification resulting from increased absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere is affecting ocean species such as sea urchins and oysters. Scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara discuss their experiments with sea creatures in acidic sea water. There is an associated lesson plan and classroom activity that has students test the effects of CO2 on water pH.
This short video clip summarizes NOAA's annual State of the Climate Report for 2009. It presents a comprehensive summary of Earth's climate in 2009 and establishes the last decade as the warmest on record. Reduced extent of Arctic sea ice, glacier volume, and snow cover reflect the effects of rising global temperature.