Carbon and the Atmosphere: My Life as a Greenhouse Gas
- How do carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases warm our Earth?
- Will there be any consequences for Earth if we continue to burn fossil fuels, and if so, what should we do about it?
In Part A: You will use an animation, charts, and a short video to learn the basics of greenhouse gas chemistry, including what carbon compounds exist in the atmosphere and their relationship to the greenhouse effect.
In Part B: You will use a graph and videos on historical ice core carbon dioxide (CO2) data in order to investigate the relationship between ices ages, interglacial periods and changes in CO2 levels. You will then examine more current CO2and temperature data to reveal the relationship between current trends in global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. You will use CarbonTracker, developed by NOAA, to investigate and compare atmospheric CO2 time series data sampled from different parts of the world.
In Part C: You will use a carbon footprint calculator developed by The Nature Conservancy. You will input family household data such as family's energy usage and then compare your carbon footprint with each others and with the world.
By the end of this investigation, you should be able to:
- Explain how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation and warm the atmosphere.
- Explain how scientists use historical ice core CO2 and temperature data in combination with more current CO2 and temperature data to reveal the relationship between trends in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels.
- Describe how individuals and families affect the carbon cycle and identify ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Keeping Track of What You LearnThroughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions.
- Checking In questions are intended to keep you engaged and focused on key concepts and to allow you to periodically check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
- Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills you should be learning from the lab activities and readings.