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.

A series of activities designed to introduce students to the role of sediments and sedimentary rocks in the global carbon cycle and the use of stable carbon isotopes to reconstruct ancient sedimentary environments. Students will make some simple calculations, think about the implications of their results, and see an optional demonstration of the density separation of a sediment sample into a light, organic and a heavier mineral fraction.

This static graph of changes in CO2 concentrations goes back 400,000 years, showing the dramatic spike in recent years.

Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.

This short animation helps demonstrate the difference between climate and weather by using the analogy of a leashed dog walking with a man.

This video is one of a series of videos from the Switch Energy project. It describes three types of geothermal sources -- rare ones in which high temperatures are naturally concentrated near the surface, deep wells that require fracturing the rock and then circulating water to bring heat to the surface, and low temperature sources that use constant temperatures just below the surface to heat or cool a building. The latter two are more widely available but cost-prohibitive today.

In this activity, students research the relationship between hosts, parasites, and vectors for common vector-borne diseases (VBDs) and evaluate how climate change could affect the spread of disease.

This video from a 2005 NOVA program features scientists who study how the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier in western Greenland is shrinking and moving faster due to increased melting over the past ten years. The video includes footage of scientists in the field explaining methods and animation of ice sheet dynamics leading to faster glacier movement.

This interactive visualization depicts sea surface temperatures (SST) and SST anomalies from 1885 to 2007. Learn all about SST and why SST data are highly valuable to ocean and atmospheric scientists. Understand the difference between what actual SST readings can reveal about local weather conditions and how variations from normalâcalled anomaliesâcan help scientists identify warming and cooling trends and make predictions about the effects of global climate change. Discover the relationships between SST and marine life, sea ice formation, local and global weather events, and sea level.

This interactive map allows students to experiment with decadal average temperature projections. Overall temperatures are expected to rise throughout the century and this tool demonstrates those projected measurements.