Resource Climate Science Overview

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Key Ideas

Key Idea

An important idea that is explained well in a Resource that is part of this website.

Displaying related key ideas 1 - 10 of 23 in total.

Key Idea Type Topics Grade Levels Contributing Source

Contributing Source

Content originates from either the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), from other sources vetted by WestEd (WestEd) or by the Pacific Islands Climate Education Partnership (PCEP), or from self-reported (and non-vetted) material entered directly by users/members.
An ecosystem that is located in a body of water is called an aquatic ecosystem. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystems, those that are based in ocean environments (marine ecosystems) and th... Explanation Major Aquatic Ecosystems Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
As the name implies, global climate refers to the conditions of climate averaged over the entire planet for a particular period of time. Some confusion and uncertainties occur because we tend to fo... Explanation Global Climate Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Carbon atoms on Earth also constantly move around the planet in a cycle. Unlike the water cycle, the carbon cycle involves chemistry. Carbon is combined with different atoms in the different parts ... Explanation Carbon Cycle Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Climate is not the same thing as weather. Weather is the minute-by-minute variable condition of the atmosphere on a local scale. Climate is a conceptual description of an area’s average weather con... Explanation Weather and Climate Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Earth is made of solid stuff, liquid stuff, and gas stuff. We are most familiar with the solid ground upon which we walk and build our social structures. This thin outer layer of Earth’s solid matt... Explanation Geosphere Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Energy enters the Earth system in the form of sunlight. About 30% of that input solar energy is immediately reflected t outer space and does not heat the planet. Different features of Earth reflect... Explanation Solar Energy Input, Reflection Energy Outflow Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Heat energy leaves the Earth system by radiation. Warmer objects radiate infrared heat energy to their cooler surroundings. We directly experience this phenomenon when we feel the heat coming from ... Explanation Radiation Energy Outflow (Greenhouse Effect) Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
In order to understand climate, we need to know a lot about how our planet works. While our planet is very complex, there are a few big ideas that can help us understand the most important things t... Explanation Earth System Science (ESS) Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
Nitrogen atoms on Earth also constantly move around the planet in a cycle. Like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle involves chemistry. Nitrogen is combined with different atoms in the different p... Explanation Nitrogen Cycle Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP
One reason that it is very helpful to think about planet Earth as a system is that we have learned a lot about systems and how they change. For example, in many systems, a small change in one part ... Explanation Changes in Systems Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, College PCEP

Comments (4)

  • Julian Sachs Regarding Key Idea Solar Energy Input, Reflection Energy Outflow. Some dropped words and repetitions. Also important to stress that the 30% albedo is a global average. Most of the reflection comes from cloud tops, not snow and ice. ANother important concept is that the absorbed energy is moved by wind and currents in the form of latent and sensible heat. The latent heat is associated with the change of state of water vapor. When water evaporates it stores energy that is released upon condensation. Hence evaporation of water in the tropics and the advection of that vapor to higher latitudes where it is rained out results in a net transfer of the solar radiation from low to high latitudes. Warm ocean currents and warm air masses also advect heat, which is the sensible heating.

  • Julian Sachs In Key Idea for Geosphere: Re: "The positions of mountains and continents influence the patterns of how [energy] circulates within the Earth system." change "energy" to "moisture, momentum and energy" and add "by steering winds and currents" to the end of the sentence.

  • Julian Sachs Carbon Cycle Key Idea: the water cycle includes chemistry just as the carbon cycle does. Photosynthesis splits water into oxygen and hydrogen ions, with the oxygen released as O2 and the hydrogen incorporated into NADPH and plant material.

  • Julian Sachs COmment on "Global Climate" Key Idea. My students and lay people I speak to seem to get a better sense of what climate is when you call it the average weather over large areas and long time periods. The idea of average weather I think is a powerful one since everyone knows what weather is. Then the you can make your point about changes in weather in a single location or on a short time scale are not necessarily linked to a change in climate. Just like the weather from day to day, such changes in weather can and do occur randomly. Only by averaging over long time periods (e.g., typically decades) can the "noisy" weather systems be interpreted as climate.

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