Why is Carbon an Important Element?

Students explore the carbon cycle and the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature. Students create and compare graphs of carbon dioxide and temperature data from one local (Mauna Loa, Hawaii) meteorological station and one NASA global data set. These graphs, as well as a global vegetation map and an atmospheric wind circulation patterns diagram, are used as evidence to support the scientific claims they develop through their analysis and interpretation.

Go To:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Emphasize the idea that a correlation between measurements does not imply a causal relationship (i.e., there needs to be other evidence to establish this relationship).

More recent data available at: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/sio-keel.html] and especially [http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/maunaloa.co2 for CO2 data.

Further background materials and 8 other activities associated with this module are available at: http://icp.giss.nasa.gov/education.