Greenhouse Gases

Use a computer model to explore how the earth's atmosphere affects the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation.

Launch Activity

WARNING: Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal. Please view the requirements below before launching this activity.

Attention

Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal: Register at the Portal »

Requirements

Explore how the Earth’s atmosphere affects the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation. Using an interactive model, adjust realistic parameters such as how many clouds are present or how much carbon dioxide is in the air, and watch how these factors affect the global temperature.

Launch Activity

WARNING: Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal. Please view the requirements below before launching this activity.

Subject
Physics

Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation

Grade Level
High School

License
CC BY 4.0

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

4. The Physical Setting

4B. The Earth
  • 4B/M15** (NSES). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that the atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and trace amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases.
  • 4B/H4** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
  • 4B/H6** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
  • 4B/H9** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that although the earth has a great capacity to absorb and recycle materials naturally, ecosystems have only a finite capacity to withstand change without experiencing major ecological alterations that may also have adverse effects on human activities.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/M6**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
4F. Motion
  • 4F/E3** (ASL). By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that light travels and tends to maintain its direction of motion until it interacts with an object or material. Light can be absorbed, redirected, bounced back, or allowed to pass through.
  • 4F/M8** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that there are a great variety of electromagnetic waves: radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays. These wavelengths vary from radio waves, the longest, to gamma rays, the shortest.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 8C/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that transformations and transfers of energy within a system usually result in some energy escaping into its surrounding environment. Some systems transfer less energy to their environment than others during these transformations and transfers.
  • 8C/M2. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
  • 8C/M11** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that by burning fuels, people are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and transforming chemical energy into thermal energy which spreads throughout the environment.
  • 8C/H7** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that during any transformation of energy, there is inevitably some dissipation of energy into the environment. In this practical sense, energy gets "used up," even though it is still around somewhere.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 11B/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 11B/M2. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.
11C. Constancy and Change
  • 11C/M10**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that trends based on what has happened in the past can be used to make predictions about what things will be like in the future. However, these predictions may not always match what actually happens.
  • 11C/H4. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that graphs and equations are useful (and often equivalent) ways for depicting and analyzing patterns of change.
  • 11C/H6*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the present arises from the conditions of the past and, in turn, affects what is possible in the future.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="">The Concord Consortium. Greenhouse Gases. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010, September 10.</a>

AIP
Greenhouse Gases (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 10), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

AJP
Greenhouse Gases (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 10), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

APA
Greenhouse Gases. (2010, September 10). Retrieved 2017, August 16, from The Concord Consortium: https://concord.org/

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

Requirements

This activity runs entirely in a Web browser. Preferred browsers are: Google Chrome (versions 30 and above), Safari (versions 7 and above), Firefox (version 30 and above), Internet Explorer (version 10 or higher), and Microsoft's Edge.

Related Resources

Comments

Leave a comment

We have just used this resource with our Year 10 students and they were fascinated with the parameter changes that they could introduce and immediately see the effects of those. It reinforced what we have been telling them in the course material very well.

Share on Facebook

Innovative Technology in Science InquiryThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry project.

Grade Level
High School
Subject
Physics
Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation
Rating
5
Rate this resource.

Log In

Don't have a profile?

Create a profile and...

Create your profile now »

Loading...