Jump to this Activity »
Using Satellite Images to Understand Earth's Atmosphere
http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/atmosphere/index.html

Todd Ensign, et. al., Earth Exploration Toolbook, TERC

In this Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter, students select, explore, and analyze satellite imagery. They do so in the context of a case study of the origins of atmospheric carbon monoxide and aerosols, tiny solid airborne particles such as smoke from forest fires and dust from desert wind storms. They use the software tool ImageJ to animate a year of monthly images of aerosol data and then compare the animation to one created for monthly images of carbon monoxide data. Students select, explore and analyze satellite imagery using NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) satellite data and NEO Image Composite Explorer (ICE) tool to investigate seasonal and geographic patterns and variations in concentration of CO and aerosols in the atmosphere.

Activity takes about three to four class periods. Computer and Internet access required.

Discuss this Resource»
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Airborne particulates, called "aerosols," have a complex effect on Earth’s energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing and releasing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and man-made processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2e
mate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
About Teaching Principle C
Other materials addressing Cli
Human activities have affected the land, oceans, and atmosphere, and these changes have altered global climate patterns. Burning fossil fuels, releasing chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing the amount of forest cover, and rapid expansion of farming, development, and industrial activities are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and changing the balance of the climate system.
About Teaching Principle 6
Other materials addressing 6c

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
Other materials addressing:
A) Human/environment interactions.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals released into the atmosphere, and intensive farming, have changed the earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere. Some of these changes have decreased the capacity of the environment to support some life forms.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
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.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Introduce students to ImageJ before beginning the exercise.
  • Instructors should emphasize the effect of aerosols on the energy budget and climate.
  • Suggest pairing students for activity.

About the Science

  • Excellent use and application of science from remote sensing data with a problem-based scenario.
  • Makes use of the type of tools scientists use to analyze satellite images to study change.

About the Pedagogy

  • Hands-on exercise uses NEO data to explore carbon monoxide concentrations and aerosols.
  • Good organization of learning materials and a logical learning sequence leads students to analysis and understanding of complex data sets.
  • Instructions are clear, thorough, and well-written.
  • The case study provides good background information for students (and teachers).
  • Excellent going further activities for advanced students.
  • Hands-on exercise uses NEO data to explore carbon monoxide concentrations and aerosols.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The "show me" feature that helps students through problems and procedures using software is just exemplary and allows students to check their progress frequently throughout the activity.

Jump to this Activity »



Have you used these materials with your students? Do you have insights to share with other educators about their use? Please share with the community by adding a comment below.

Please use this space only for discussion about teaching with these particular materials.
For more general discussion about teaching climate literacy please use our general discussion boards.
To report a problem or direct a comment to the CLEAN project team please use our feedback form (or the feedback link at the bottom of every page).
Off-topic posts will be deleted.

Join the Discussion


Log in to reply