On earth, two elements, nitrogen () and oxygen (), make up almost 99% of the volume of clean, dry air. Most of the remaining 1% is accounted for by the inert gaseous element, argon (Ar). Argon and the tiny percentage of remaining gases are referred to as trace gases.
Certain trace atmospheric gases help to heat up our planet because they appear transparent to incoming visible (shortwave) light but act as a barrier to outgoing infrared (longwave) radiation. These special trace gases are often referred to as "greenhouse gases" because a scientist in the early 19th century suggested that they function much like the glass plates found on a greenhouse used for growing plants.
The earth's atmosphere is composed of gases (for example, and ) of just the right types and in just the right amounts to warm the earth to temperatures suitable for life. The effect of the atmosphere to trap heat is the true "greenhouse effect."
We can evaluate the effect of greenhouse gases by comparing Earth with its nearest planetary neighbors, Venus and Mars. These planets either have too much greenhouse effect or too little to be able to sustain life as we know it. The differences between the three planets have been termed the "Goldilocks Principle" (Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, but Earth is just right). http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_1_2_1t.htm
In this lesson, students learn how atmospheric composition and circulation impact the generation of storms. Students examine the primary and variable gases that...
AnthropoceneLast Updated on 2013-09-03 12:23:40
The Anthropocene defines Earth's most recent geologic time period as being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans. The word combines the root "anthropo", meaning "human" with the root "-cene", the standard suffix for "epoch" in geologic time. The Anthropocene is distinguished as a new period either after or within the Holocene, the current epoch, which began approximately 10,000 years ago (about 8000 BC) with the end of the last glacial period.
Anthropocene is a new term, proposed in 2000 by Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen. A similar term, Anthrocene, was coined by Andrew Revkin in his 1992 book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, but was not adopted by scientists.... More »
Simulation: Climate Momentum Last Updated on 2013-05-14 00:00:00
A flash tool with fast insights. This Climate Momentum Simulation allows users to quickly compare the resulting sea level rise, temperature change, atmospheric CO2, and global CO2 emissions from six predetermined scenarios.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Climate Momentum Simulator
if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('a2be1f13-9024-4d93-bd99-27b831da7bf0');Get the Climate Momentum widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)
Assessment is at the discretion of the individulal educator.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Additonal Simulations by Climate Interactive >>
Climate Momentum Simulation
Climate... More »
Lab: Greenhouse Gas Inventory exerciseLast Updated on 2013-04-29 00:00:00
In this lab, students use and become familiar with the college’s greenhouse gas inventory and the Clean Air – Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator, an excel based package that Dickinson and many other schools use to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions.
Addtional course materials are provided. See below.
Learning goals are for students to be able to:
Assess and explain connections between campus operations, climate change and sustainability;
Critically analyze climate action plans of colleges and other institutions;
Evaluate options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing sustainability goals using environmental, financial and other criteria;
Work effectively as a member of a team to... More »
Global warming is epic, long-term study saysLast Updated on 2013-04-08 00:00:00
(CNN) -- Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest -- in just one century.
A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.
"If any period in time had a sustained temperature change similar to what we have today, we would have certainly seen that in our record," he said. It is a good indicator of just how fast man-made climate change has progressed.
A century is a very short period of time for such a spike.
It's supposed to be cold
The Earth was very cold at the turn of the 20th century. The decade from 1900 to 1909 was colder than 95% of the last 11,300 years, the study found.
Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century,... More »
Speed Science Fact Sheet: Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture - CSCAPLast Updated on 2013-03-29 00:00:00
These Speed Science Fact Sheets and presentation videos are approved for use in educational, research and extension settings. The fact sheets were developed and presented as "Speed Science" by the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP).
The CSCAP is a transdisciplinary partnership among 11 institutions creating new science and educational opportunities. It seeks to increase resilience and adaptability of Midwest agriculture to more volatile weather patterns by identifying farmer practices and policies that increase sustainability while meeting crop demand.
Printable flyer >> About CSCAP Project
To promote the long-term sustainability and productivity of U.S. corn-based cropping systems against recent climate trends and future uncertainty.
Develop standardized methodologies and... More »
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