Pedagogy in Action > Library > Using an Earth System Approach > ESS Learning Resources > Atmosphere


  • Air Pressure, Height and Temperature. This undergraduate meteorology tutorial uses the balancing of gravity/centrifugal forces and the vertical pressure gradient with the ideal gas law to explain how pressure, temperature, and height are related in the atmosphere. (more info)
  • Atmosphere-Ocean Model. The Atmosphere-Ocean Model is a computer program that simulates the Earth's climate in three dimensions on a gridded domain. The model requires that the user enter two kinds of input, specified parameters and prognostic variables, and will generate two kinds of output, climatic diagnostics and prognostic variables. (more info)
  • Atmospheric Visualization Collection. This collection is based on near real-time visualization of atmospheric data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program's Southern Great Plains (SGP) site. The SGP site is the largest collection of ground-based remote-sensing atmospheric instruments in the world. Data imagery from the Atmospheric Visualization Collection (AVC) is accessible by instrumentation name, calendar date, or geophysical focus area. The page includes material on atmospheric visualization, earth sciences, and such geophysical focus areas as aerosols, clouds, shortwave and longwave radiation, atmospheric states, and surface energy exchange. An external link is provided to the ARM Archive at which users can access past data. A code repository is made available allowing students to produce their own visualizations using past or current datasets. (more info)
  • CDIAC: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. This site is the homepage of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) which includes the World Data Center for Atmospheric Trace Gases. CDIAC is the primary global-change data and information analysis center of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). CDIAC responds to data and information requests from users from all over the world who are concerned with the greenhouse effect and global climate change. CDIAC's data holdings include records of the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other radiatively active gases in the atmosphere; the role of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases; emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; long-term climate trends; the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on vegetation; and the vulnerability of coastal areas to rising sea level. In operation since 1982, CDIAC: obtains, evaluates, and archives data, compiles and distributes digital numeric data packages and computer model packages, provides data management support to global-change related scientific projects, distributes related reports, produces the newsletter, CDIAC Communications, and in general acts as the information focus for the U.S. DOE Global Change Research Program. CDIAC is supported by DOE's Environmental Sciences Division of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research. CDIAC represents DOE in the multi-agency Global Change Data and Information System. (more info)
  • Computer Models. This undergraduate meteorology tutorial from Texas A&M University focuses on computer models that are run by the National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and are used for forecasting day-to-day weather in the United States. NCEP has four basic models: the Eta Model, the Nested Grid model (NGM), the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC), and the Global Forecast System (GFS). Each model is a self-contained set of computer programs, which include means of analyzing data and computing the evolution of the atmosphere's winds, temperature, pressure, and moisture based on the analyses. Students are given some basic terminology and learn to identify the models and to read model output. (more info)
  • Earth Observatory Global Maps. The Earth Observatory data and images page provides an interactive way to view some of the dynamic processes on our planet. For a variety of datasets, users select the time period, and the data is then displayed as colors on a world map. Data can be displayed for a single time period or over a range of time, producing an animation. For example, the snow and ice cover dataset shows the advance and retreat of snow cover and sea ice as the seasons progress. Most of the datasets begin in 1978 and extend to the present. Data is arranged into topics of atmosphere, oceans, land, life on earth, and heat and energy. Within each category are several more specific categories to chose from, such as precipitation, vegetation, fires, ozone and outgoing heat radiation. These images would be very useful in presentations. There is also an image archive featuring fascinating high-resolution imagery of various events and processes from all over the globe. (more info)
  • Enviropedia. This encyclopedia provides a one-stop source of information on a range of atmospheric issues, arranged alphabetically by topic. The topics covered include air quality, acid rain, global warming, climate change, sustainability, weather, and ozone depletion. Each topic has a general description as well as a list of subtopics that provide more detailed information. A references list and a set of links to air quality information for Britain and Europe are also provided. (more info)
  • Exploring Temperature & Pressure Changes with Height. Using the VGEE Visualization Environment, this activity enables students to create 5D visualizations of pressure and temperature changes at sea level and higher in the atmosphere. The VGEE curriculum links to atmospheric and oceanic data using Thematic Real-time Earth Distributed Data Servers (THREDDS) services and includes a visualization tool that is an educational instance of the Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) developed by Unidata. This tool is a Java-based program that lets users construct realistic 3D graphics and animations of what is occurring within a dataset. 5D refers to the three spatial dimensions plus time and multiple variables. ( This site may be offline. )
  • Forces in the Atmosphere. This undergraduate meteorology tutorial is about understanding the forces that cause the motion of air, producing winds and changes of weather. It discusses how these forces tend to balance each other, and how they produce the wind. (more info)
  • Hands-On Meteorology. Hands-On Meteorology is a collection of interactive concept models and active learning materials for meteorology instruction. The concept models illustrate conceptually difficult processes in atmospheric science. Users change parameters in the concept models and examine the outcomes of such changes. Concept models allow for student note keeping and data export. Active learning exercises are provided as guided instruction to the concept models and to assist teachers in developing lessons. Active learning exercises are also available for meteorology topics that currently do not have a concept model. (more info)
  • LEARN: Atmospheric Science Explorers. LEARN was created to increase middle school science teacher knowledge of and interest in the atmospheric sciences. The original project began in 1991 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Much of the instructional and science content foundation for the LEARN workshops came from the teaching modules developed by LEARN teachers in collaboration with more than 60 National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientists. The three hardcopy modules included background information, hands-on activities using simple materials, and authentic assessment tools. The modules (Ozone in Our Atmosphere, Atmospheric Dynamics, and Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere) were not designed to replace existing curricula or textbooks. Rather, they were intended to enhance earth and physical science programs by incorporating atmospheric science concepts. These modules were created by teachers for teachers. Thus far, one of these modules, Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere, is available in a web-based format . The seven sections include introductions to the atmosphere, climate, ozone, stratospheric ozone and tropospheric ozone, the "greenhouse effect" and global climate change. Each section provides background information, general learning concepts, and a list of classroom activities. (more info)
  • Meteorology Education and Training: Case Study Template. The Case Study Template (CST) is a PC-based software tool for creating computer-based case studies. It is intended for use by educators, trainers, and scientists as a lecture aid, a tool for creating laboratory exercises and self-paced learning programs, and a graphical interface for scientific presentations and training. Completed case studies can be distributed over a network or on CDs or the Web. The CST consists of a set of templates for creating title, menu, and section screens. The sections can be used to display unique time periods, locations, events, or sets of products, etc. Each section can contain product groups with accompanying products (satellite, radar, observations, etc.) and product descriptions, pages of information, questions for learners to answer (made from a choice of 6 templates), directions, and links to related programs, such as Web sites and tutorials. The Template comes with all of the files required for creating a case study, including the runtime files for Asymetrix ToolBook 11, the authoring language used to create the Case Study Template. (Asymetrix ToolBook 11 itself is not required.) (more info)
  • Precipitation and the Sounding Diagram. This undergraduate meteorology tutorial deals with the interplay between the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere and the temperature of the ascending air in the formation of precipitation. Students learn about the dry and moist adiabatic lapse rates, reading and interpreting sounding diagrams, and determining the change in temperature as air parcels rise or sink. (more info)
  • Weather Forecasting. Weather Forecasting is a set of computer-based learning modules that teach students about meteorology from the point of view of learning how to forecast the weather. The modules were designed as the primary teaching resource for a seminar course on weather forecasting at the introductory college level (originally METR 151, later ATMO 151) and can also be used in the laboratory component of an introductory atmospheric science course. The modules assume no prior meteorological knowledge. In addition to text and graphics, the modules include interactive questions and answers designed to reinforce student learning. The module topics are: 1. How to Access Weather Data, 2. How to Read Hourly Weather Observations, 3. The National Collegiate Weather Forecasting Contest, 4. Radiation and the Diurnal Heating Cycle, 5. Factors Affecting Temperature: Clouds and Moisture, 6. Factors Affecting Temperature: Wind and Mixing, 7. Air Masses and Fronts, 8. Forces in the Atmosphere, 9. Air Pressure, Temperature, and Height, 10. Winds and Pressure, 11. The Forecasting Process, 12. Sounding Diagrams, 13. Upper Air Maps, 14. Satellite Imagery, 15. Radar Imagery, 16. Numerical Weather Prediction, 17. NWS Forecast Models, 18. Sources of Model Error, 19. Sea Breezes, Land Breezes, and Coastal Fronts, 20. Soundings, Clouds, and Convection, 21. Snow Forecasting. (more info)
  • Weather and Climate Data. The Weather and Climate Data site for the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) contains analyses of current conditions and the state of the atmosphere; weather forecasts; metropolitan quick-look weather summaries and meteograms; short-term climate outlooks for temperature, precipitation and soil moisture; El Nino forecasts for understanding the ocean-atmosphere system; and maximum potential hurricane intensity maps showing potential minimum pressure and potential maximum winds for the oceans. (more info)
  • Weather: What Forces Affect Our Weather?. This website provides an easy-to-understand look at our weather system. Topics covered include the atmosphere, the water cycle, storms, ice and snow, weather forecasting and Earth's changing climate. There are features on ozone depletion, global warming, El Nino and La Nina. An activity allows users to identify cloud formations associated with tornadoes, complete with photographs. There is also a wind chill calculator. (more info)
  • World Meteorological Organization. From weather prediction to air pollution research, climate change related activities, ozone layer depletion studies and tropical storm forecasting, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) coordinates global scientific activity to allow increasingly prompt and accurate weather information and other services for public, private and commercial use, including international airline and shipping industries. Within the United Nations, the Geneva-based 185-Member Organization provides the authoritative scientific voice on the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere and climate. This site is a window to WMO programmes and research. (more info)