The Greenhouse Effect Visualizer
- Grade level: Middle School, High School
- Subject Area: Science, Language Arts
During this lesson, students visit the "Greenhouse Effect Visualizer"
(GEV) at Northwestern University. The GEV is a powerful interactive scientific visualization
tool that students can use to analyze models of global climate changes related to theories about
the Greenhouse Effect. Students work in small groups to study the various aspects of
global weather and discuss the possibility of a Greenhouse Effect. Students can also visit
other Websites with global atmospheric or oceanic models to visualize climate changes.
- Use the "Greenhouse Effects Visualizer" to examine global warming and climate changes.
- Develop and test hypotheses about changes in sunlight, temperature, emissions, and
other variables using the Greenhouse Effect Visualizer.
- Use other scientific visualization tools to understand the Greenhouse Effect and other
aspects of global warming.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some
assumptions about the hardware
and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the
LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or
activities have a computer
(PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and
monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or
software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but
Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special"
requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above)
and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
hardware requirements: None.
- Special software requirements: None.
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem),
or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
As students work in teams with the scientific visualizers, encourage
them to develop hypotheses about global warming and the Greenhouse Effect, test their
hypotheses using the visualizers, and reflect and discuss the results in their groups. Studentsshould also use the criteria they developed in the prior lesson to guide their exploration of
the visual models of global climate change. These criteria should be applied as students test
variouis models of global warming for evidence of the Greenhouse Effect.
- When students use the "Greenhouse Effect Visualizer," they can examine a variety of variables,
including temperature, sunlight, emissions, and Greenhouse Effect energy. These variables can be
analyzed by year, quarter, or month, and the visual resolution can be changed as needed.
(See Internet Resources below to access this visualizer.)
- Students can use other scientific visualization tools, such as the "GENESIS Earth System"
global change model (for atmosphere, biosphere, and ocean), the "Global Climate Perspective
System (GCPS)" for temperature and precipitation changes, the "IPPC Atmosphere-Ocean" model for
changes in a variety of variables, and the "SSEC" model of emissions and storms
(see Internet Resources below to access these visualizers).
- As students use these models, ask them to try to discuss what the models represent, to
ask what data is used to create the models, and whether the underlying assumptions and
criteria used for the models are consistent across the Websites. The criteria developed in
the prior lesson are used to validate the evidence students collect to support or refute
the Greenhouse Effect.
- CoVis Scientific Visualizers
CoVis visualizers include the weather visualizer and the greenhouse effect visualizer,
and links to other climate visualizers and oceanographic visualizers.
- GENESIS Earth System Modeling Visualization
"The purpose of the visualization effort of the GENESIS Earth System Modeling Project is to aid in the
analysis of global climate research and communicate its findings through the creation of broadcast quality
video products. "
- The Global Climate Perspectives System (GCPS)
The GCPS maintains a variety of global climate modeling tools and data, including an interactive display of
climatological data, interactive data access to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
(NOAA) baseline climatological anomaly data sets,
climatological data sets, a global climate model, global maximum-minimum temperature data set, and
numerous other climate data sets.
- Greenhouse Effect Visualizer
Located at Northwestern University, and developed as part of the CoVis project, the Greenhouse
Effect Visualizer allows students to visualize various global phemonema related to warming.
- IPPC Atmosphere-Ocean Model Simulations
"The global coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Model was designed for climate predictions at
decade to century time scales." This site is technical, and may be best suited for advanced
students with extensive science background.
- The SSEC Visualization Project
The Visualization Project at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) has developed
Vis5D. "The Vis5D system is very widely used by scientists to visualize the output of their numerical
simulations of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. "
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