Classroom/Laboratory Activity: The Impact of Human Activities on the Natural Carbon Cycle

A classroom/laboratory activity to understand the carbon cycle, and to explore how human activities may affect the natural carbon cycle.

Students will run a simulation to explore how an increase in fossil fuel use will affect the natural carbon cycle, and will discuss the possible impacts on flora and fauna.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Which components in the carbon cycle act as carbon sinks?
  2. What are the possible impacts of deforestation on the natural carbon cycle? How might these changes affect the Earth’s climate?

About the Tool

Tool Name The Habitable Planet – Carbon Lab
Discipline Chemistry
Topic(s) in Discipline Carbon Cycle, Biogeochemical Cycles, Environmental Chemistry
Climate Topic Long-term Cycles and Feedback Mechanisms
Type of Tool Laboratory Activity
Grade Level High School
Location  Global
Language English
Translation
Developed by Annenberg Learner
Hosted at Annenberg Learner
Link https://www.learner.org/courses/envsci/interactives/carbon/index.php
Access Online
Computer Skills Intermediate

Reading: Beer-Lambert Law

A reading that uses the Beer-Lambert Law to highlight the link between greenhouse gases and global warming. This reading by Tom Kuntzleman, Chemical Education Xchange (ChemEd X), uses the Beer-Lambert Law to explain the increasing global warming potential of Earth’s atmosphere due to the higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in recent times.

Students will learn about the composition of the atmosphere and the greenhouse effect. They will also be introduced to the Beer-Lambert Law which is used to study the transmittance of sunlight through the atmosphere. They will further learn how this law can be used to evaluate the absorbance values of individual gases in the atmosphere, particularly greenhouse gases.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to: 

  1. What is the Beer-Lambert Law? How is it expressed in an equation?
  2. Discuss the composition of the atmosphere. 
  3. How do increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases affect the absorbance of sunlight?

About the tool

Tool NameChemical Connections to Climate Change
DisciplineChemistry
Topic(s) in DisciplineBeer-Lambert Law, Molar Absorptivity, Solar Absorption, Greenhouse Gases
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere; Greenhouse Effect
Type of tool Reading
Grade LevelHigh School
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish 
Translation
Developed byTom Kuntzleman, Spring Arbor University
Hosted atChemical Education Xchange (ChemEd X) Website
Linkhttps://www.chemedx.org/blog/chemical-connections-climate-change
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

E-Learning Course: Climate Change- A Guide For Teachers Of All Disciplines

Two E-learning courses (MOOCs) developed by Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune on Climate Change: Science, Impacts, and Policy and Teaching Climate Change. These courses were developed through the National Resource Centre (NRC) on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune as part of the Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. 

The courses include lectures on the current understanding of climate science and climate change, societal impacts of climate change, climate change policies and governance, and impacts of climate change. Additionally, the course includes lectures on how teachers of all disciplines can incorporate climate change in their everyday teaching.

The online course video playlist includes:

  1. Introduction to Climate Science (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
  2. Climate Archives, Climate Data, and Climate Models (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
  3. Climate Change: Past Records: Climate Change on Tectonic Timescales, Orbital Timescales, Glacial/Deglacial Timescales, Millennial Timescales, Historical Timescales (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
  4. Modern Climate Change: Global Warming since the Industrial Revolution (Raghu Murtugudde)
  5. Future Projections of Climate Change (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
  6. Mitigation and Adaptation (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland and Malti Goel, Climate Change Research Institute)
  7. Climate Change and Society: Culture, Politics, Social Dynamics (D. Parthasarathy, IIT Bombay)
  8. Climate Change Policy and Governance: Global Negotiations and Domestic Policy Making (Navroz Dubash, Centre for Policy Research)
  9. Climate Change: Impacts in India (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
  10. Climate Change and Impacts on
    1. The Indian Monsoon (Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland)
    2. Water Resources (Pradeep Mujumdar, IISc Bengaluru)
    3. Biodiversity and Ecology (Deepak Barua, IISER Pune)
    4. The Himalayan Glaciers (Argha Banerjee, IISER Pune)
  11. Teaching Resources and Pedagogical Tools (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  12. Teaching Climate Change in the Chemistry Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  13. Teaching Climate Change in the Biology Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  14. Teaching Climate Change in the Physics Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  15. Teaching Climate Change in the Math and Statistics Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  16. Teaching Climate Change in the Economics Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  17. Teaching Climate Change in the Environmental Sciences Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  18. Teaching Climate Change in the Geography Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  19. Teaching Climate Change in the Social Sciences Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 
  20. Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities Classroom (Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) 

About the Tool 

Tool NameClimate Change: A Guide For Teachers Of All Disciplines 
DisciplineEarth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, Economics, Social Sciences, Humanities
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview
Climate Topic Introduction to Climate Change; Climate Literacy
Type of tool E-learning Course
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byRahul Chopra (TROP ICSU and IISER Pune) for the National Resource Centre (NRC) on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune as part of the Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India
Hosted atIISER Pune Science Media Center YouTube Channel
LinkCourse 1: Climate Change: Science, Impacts, and Policy:- Link
Course 2: Climate Change: A Guide For Teachers Of All Disciplines:- Link
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Video/ Microlecture: Climate Change in the Physics Classroom

A video lecture by Rahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune on climate change educational resources that Physics teachers can use in their classrooms. These educational resources integrate climate change understanding with the core curriculum in Physics. This video lecture is part of an online e-learning course (MOOC) titled ‘Climate Change: A Guide For Teachers Of All Disciplines’ developed  by the National Resource Centre (NRC) on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune as part of the Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India.

This video lecture presents several lesson plans and teaching tools that Physics teachers can use to teach topics in their discipline using climate related activities, case studies and examples. It also includes discussions on the use of digital pedagogy for effective classroom instruction. This lecture presents how Physics teachers can teach topics such as Blackbody Radiation, Convection, Energy and Mass Conservation, Coriolis Force, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Hadley Circulation, Heat Transport, Planck’s Law, Planetary Energy Balance, Stefan Boltzmann Law, among others.

About the Tool 

Tool NameClimate Change in the Physics Classroom
DisciplinePhysics
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview
Climate Topic Climate Literacy
Type of tool Video/ Microlecture (35 mins)
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byRahul Chopra, TROP ICSU and IISER Pune
Hosted at​YouTube Channel of IISER Pune
LinkClimate Change in the Physics Classroom:- Link
Climate Change: A Guide For Teachers Of All Disciplines:- Link
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Teaching Module: Teach Climate Science with the Teacher Friendly Guide To Climate Change™

A teaching module of resources and activities that accompanies ‘The Teacher-Friendly Guide™ to Climate Change’

edited by Ingrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, & Robert M. Ross,the Paleontological Research Institution. This teaching module includes videos and classroom/laboratory activities on the following topics

  1. Climate Science
    1. Energy and Atmosphere
      1. Infrared energy
      2. Infrared absorption by carbon dioxide
      3. Carbon dioxide and temperature
      4. Box Model: steady state vs. non-steady state behavior
      5. Heat capacity
      6. Thermal expansion of water
    2. Carbon Cycle
      1. Diurnal variations in carbon dioxide
      2. How many molecules make a trace gas?
      3. NOAA Mauna Loa data and rate of CO2 increase
      4. Respiration
    3. Hydrologic Cycle
      1. Rainfall and river response
  1. Climate Change Mitigation
    1. Renewable Energy
      1. Solar energy
      2. Near-surface geothermal energy
      3. Wind energy
    2. Carbon Sequestration
      1. Afforestation and Reforestation: tree biomass & carbon dioxide storage
  1. Communication and Advocacy
    1. Citizen science

About the Tool 

Tool NameTeach Climate Science The Teacher Friendly Guide To Climate Change
DisciplineEarth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, Economics, Social Sciences, Humanities
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview
Climate Topic Introduction to Climate Change; Climate Literacy
Type of tool Teaching Module
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byIngrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, & Robert M. Ross
Hosted atPaleontological Research Institution
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Reading: The Physics of Climate Change

A reading by the American Physical Society that provides an overview on the physics of climate change. This reading introduces the concepts of energy balance, radiative forcings, advection, hydrological processes, General Circulation Models, and anthropogenic greenhouse gas. It also summarises the responses to climate change through mitigation and adaptation.

Students will learn about various physical concepts that are used to determine anthropogenic climate change. They will also be introduced to climate prediction and the uncertainty caused due to the changes in the climate feedback balance and the net impact of greenhouse gases.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to: 

  1. What is the role of physics in understanding climate change?
  2. Discuss some uncertainties of anthropogenically forced climate change impacts.

About the Tool 

Tool NameClimate Change 
DisciplinePhysics
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview, Energy Balance, Radiative Forcings, Advection, General Circulation Models, Greenhouse Gas
Climate Topic Climate Literacy; Introduction to Climate Change
Type of tool Reading
Grade LevelUndergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish 
Translation
Developed byAmerican Physical Society
Hosted atAmerican Physical Society Website
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Classroom/Laboratory Activity: Reconstruction of Paleoclimate by Using Isotopic Composition Data

A classroom/laboratory activity to learn about the isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, analyze the isotopic composition of ice, and understand how isotopic compositions can be used to recreate past temperatures and climate.

Students will plot graphs to analyze data from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica, learn about the ice age and the gas age, calculate past temperatures using hydrogen isotope data, and discuss the possible impacts of changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) concentrations on climate.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. How can you use hydrogen isotope data in an ice core to determine temperature?
  2. How can the isotopic composition of air bubbles in ice cores be used to recreate past climate?

About the Tool

Tool Name Lab: Vostok Ice Core
Discipline Chemistry, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Isotopes, Isotopic Ratios, Isotopic Composition in paleoclimate reconstructions, Atomic Number, Atomic Mass
Climate Topic Climate and the Cryosphere, Climate Variability Record
Type of Tool Laboratory Activity
Grade Level Undergraduate
Location Antarctica
Vostok Station
Language English
Translation
Developed by  Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College
Hosted at Columbia University: The Climate System course taught by Peter Schlosser, Stephanie Pfirman, Mingfang Ting, Jason Smerdon
Link Link
Access Online, Offline
Computer Skills Intermediate

Video/ Microlecture: Climate Change: The Physics Connection

  • A series of three lecture videos by Nadir Jeevanjee, Princeton University on the Physics of Climate Change. In these videos presented as blackboard lectures, Jeevanjee presents simple climate models and the underlying physics. These lectures include discussions on the following topics:
    • Introduction
    • The atmosphere in radiative-convective equilibrium
      1. Heuristics of RCE 
      2. A simple RCE climate model 
    • A two-box model for transient and equilibrium climate sensitivities 
    •  The water vapor feedback 
      1. Emission from unit optical depth 
      2. Ts-invariance of water vapor emission temperatures 
      3. Simpson’s Paradox And The Water Vapor Feedback 
    • Why does mean precipitation increase with warming?
      1. The Radiative Constraint On Precipitation
      2. Flux Divergence And Mission To Space 
      3. Ts-invariance and the deepening troposphere
    • On constant relative humidity
      1. Boundary Layer Relative Humidity
      2. Free Tropospheric Relative Humidity

Students will understand the connections between physics and Earth’s climate. They will also be able to derive simple models through the use of basic physics laws and theorems such as Thermodynamic laws, Radiative-convective Equilibrium, Feedback Cycles, Radiative constraint and Relative Humidity.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:  ‌

  1. What is the role of physics in understanding climate change?
  2. How can simple physical models be used to predict climate change?

About‌ ‌the‌ ‌tool‌ ‌

Tool‌ ‌Name‌ ‌The Physics of Climate Change: Three Blackboard Lectures on Simple Models in Climate Science
Discipline‌ ‌Physics
Topic(s)‌ ‌in‌ ‌Discipline‌ ‌Climate Change Overview, Climate Physics, Climate Models
Climate‌ ‌Topic‌ ‌ ‌Climate Literacy; Planetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance
Type‌ ‌of‌ ‌tool‌ ‌ ‌Video/ Microlectures (70 mins)
Grade‌ ‌Level‌ ‌Undergraduate; Graduate
Location‌ ‌Global‌ ‌
Language‌ ‌English‌ ‌ ‌
Translation‌ ‌
Developed‌ ‌by‌ ‌Nadir Jeevanjee
Hosted‌ ‌at‌ ‌High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University Website
Link‌ ‌Link
Access‌ ‌Online‌ ‌
Computer‌ ‌Skills‌ ‌Basic‌ ‌

Teaching Module: pH Scale, Ocean Chemistry and Impact of Ocean Acidification on Marine Life

A set of hands-on laboratory activities that uses the pH scale to understand the changes in ocean chemistry due to increased carbon dioxide emissions. This module shows that increased ocean acidification has adverse effects on marine organisms.

Reading: Climate Change- The Teacher Friendly Guide™

A reading titled ‘The Teacher Friendly Guide to Climate Change’ edited by Ingrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, & Robert M. Ross,the Paleontological Research Institution. This book includes the following chapters

  1. Why Teach About Climate Change? by Don Duggan-Haas
    1. Why Teaching About Climate Change Matters
    2. Science Learning, Its Application, and Politics
    3. We All Have Biases
    4. Systems and Scales
    5. Love and Beauty Will Persist
    6. Resources
  2. What Should Everyone Understand About Climate Change and Energy? by Don Duggan-Haas
    1. What Do You Think?
    2. Collecting Expert Opinions
    3. Consensus Documents
    4. Striving for a Coherent Conceptual Framework
    5. Resources
  3. What is Climate? by Ingrid H. H. Zabel and Others
    1. Climate is a System
    2. Measuring Climate
    3. Greenhouse Gases and Global Temperature
    4. Natural Causes of Climate Change
    5. Summary
    6. Resources
  4. Climate Change Through Earth History by Robert M. Ross and Others
    1. Why Past Climate Change Matters
    2. Observing Climate Through Time in the Rock Record
    3. History of the Earth’s Climate
    4. Climate Analogs and Models
    5. Resources
  5. Evidence For and Causes of Recent Climate Change by Ingrid H. H. Zabel and Others
    1. Changing Temperatures and Carbon Dioxide
    2. Shrinking Ice Sheets and Glaciers
    3. Changing Sea Ice Extent
    4. Thawing Permafrost
    5. Rising Sea Level
    6. Causes of Recent Climate Change
    7. What are the Likely Effects of Climate Change Going to Be?
    8. Resources
  6. 6. US Regional Climates, Current and Future by Ingrid H. H. Zabel and Benjamin Brown-Steiner
    1. Describing Climates
    2. Northeast
    3. Southeast
    4. Midwest
    5. South Central
    6. Northwest Central
    7. Southwest
    8. West
    9. Hawaii
    10. Alaska
    11. Resources
  7. Climate Change Mitigation by Ingrid H. H. Zabel
    1. What is Mitigation?
    2. Mitigation Strategies
    3. Summary
    4. Resources
  8. Geoengineering by Ingrid H. H. Zabel
    1. Counteracting Climate Change
    2. Examples of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Techniques
    3. Examples of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) Techniques
    4. Geoengineering Choices
    5. Resources
  9. Climate Change Adaptation by Ingrid H. H. Zabel
    1. How Much Does Adaptation Cost?
    2. Types of Adaptation Strategies
    3. Adatation to Different Climate Hazards
    4. Equity and Social Justice Considerations
    5. Resources
  10. Obstacles to Addressing Climate Change by Don Duggan-Haas
    1. Controversial Issues and Complex Systems
    2. Creating Meaningful Dialog
    3. Factors That Influence How We think
    4. How Do People Change Their Minds?
    5. How Can We Envision New Systems?
    6. Resources
  11. Perspective by Don Duggan-Haas
    1. Apocalyptic Tales of Climate Change
    2. Use of Language and Perspective in Teaching Climate Change
    3. Hope and Optimism
    4. Apocalyptic Prophesies Versus Predictions of Climate Change 
    5. Reality Check: A Personal Perspective 
    6. Science Teaching Toward a Sustainable World 
    7. Resources

About the Tool 

Tool NameThe Teacher Friendly Guide To Climate Change
DisciplineEarth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, Economics, Social Sciences, Humanities
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview
Climate Topic Introduction to Climate Change; Climate Literacy
Type of tool Reading
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byIngrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, & Robert M. Ross
Hosted atPaleontological Research Institution
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Reading: What is the Atmosphere?

A short reading by the Aspen Global Change Institute that summarizes what the atmosphere is. This resource can be used as an introduction to the topic by teachers interested in teaching about climate change and the role of the atmosphere.

This reading includes overview discussions on the following topics:

  1. What is the atmosphere?
  2. What makes up the atmosphere?
  3. How do humans affect the atmosphere?

The reading also includes a short journal activity. 

Students will understand what the atmosphere is. They will also understand about climate change and the role of the atmosphere.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What is the atmosphere?
  2. Discuss climate change and the role of the atmosphere.

About the Tool 

Tool NameThe Atmosphere
DisciplineEarth Sciences, Geography
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview
Climate Topic Climate Literacy; Introduction to Climate Change
Type of tool Reading
Grade LevelMiddle School; High School
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish 
Translation
Developed byAspen Global Change Institute
Hosted atAspen Global Change Institute website
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Classroom/Laboratory Activity: Black Carbon and Earth’s Albedo

A laboratory activity to demonstrate the effect of black carbon on surface temperature of the Earth. This activity by Holzer et al. for the NESTA/Windows to the Universe team demonstrates the impact of black carbon on solar radiation absorption, particularly in the poles. 

Students will be introduced to the albedo effect of black carbon. From the experiment, they will also learn how to collect and translate their findings using a simple model. 

Use this tool to help your students find answers to: 

  1. What is the albedo effect of black carbon and how does it affect the surface temperature of Earth?
  2. Discuss how cutting down of black carbon emissions can reduce global surface temperatures.

About the tool

Tool NameChanging Planet: Black Carbon- A Dusty Situation
DisciplineChemistry
Topic(s) in DisciplineCarbon Chemistry, Allotropy, Allotropes of carbon, Black Carbon, Greenhouse Gas
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere, Greenhouse Effect
Type of tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity
Grade LevelHigh School
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish 
Translation
Developed byMissy Holzer, Jennifer Bergman, and Roberta Johnson
Hosted atNESTA/Windows to the Universe team Website
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Video Micro-lecture: Ocean Buffer Chemistry

A video micro-lecture that explains carbonate buffering in the ocean. It includes discussions on the changes in the chemical composition of the ocean caused by a higher concentration of dissolved CO2, ocean acidification and the resulting effect on ocean biota.