The cryosphere, which includes all of Earth's snow and ice, is highly variable on time scales ranging from days to hundreds of thousands of years. Changes in the cryosphere influence environmental conditions like air temperature, sea level, ocean currents, storm patterns, and ultimately Earth's climate. What can the cryosphere teach us about past, present, and future changes in Earth's climate?.
Climate results from a complex set of interactions between the Sun and multiple components of the Earth system, interactions that we can't always see and that many poorly understand. What is the relationship between climate and the biosphere, and how does a change in one influence the other?
Carbon is essential to life as we know it. It is a component of our DNA and of the foods we eat, and its presence in the atmosphere (in the form of carbon dioxide) helps shape our planet's climate. As we alter the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, how do we change the planet's carbon cycle and everything that is linked to that cycle, including climate?
Coral reefs are often compared to rainforests for the vast biodiversity they support, and to old growth forests for the longevity of their ecological communities. Now, forty percent of Earth's coral reefs are in critical condition or already degraded beyond recovery. Learn more about why these amazing marine animals are so important to our planet.
Most regions of the United States experience drought at least occasionally. What happens when a region gets less than its "normal" amount of rain and snow in a year? What if the new, drier conditions last for a decade?
This unit will introduce students to many of the complex issues surrounding the Earth as a system and will help them to look at Earth in a new way—as a living system. Students will learn to identify the parts of the Earth system and the processes that connect them at the local, regional, and global scales.
The sustainability of fisheries is of vital importance to all citizens of the world. However, the global fishing fleet has outgrown what the oceans can sustainably support. Can marine fisheries continue to serve humanity in the future as they have in the past? What can humans do to keep this resource sustainable?
Hurricanes are life-threatening, building-flattening, property-flooding storms. They also play a role in distributing water and heat around the planet. Investigate how, where, and when hurricanes occur. Explore the dangers to humans and property caused by hurricanes and how we can be prepared to deal with those risks.