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Animation About the Greenhouse Effect


This is a basic animation/simulation with background information about the greenhouse effect by DAMOCLES. The animation has several layers to it that allow users to drill into more detail about the natural greenhouse effect and different aspects of it, including volcanic aerosols and human impacts from burning fossil fuels.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Greenhouse effect
About Teaching Principle 2
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Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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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.
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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.
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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

  • Educators will need to scaffold this animation to ensure that the information presented is well understood by learners.
  • When teaching about the greenhouse effect, using the term "heat," as this animation does, may confuse students, especially if they think of heat as a verb. The more accurate technical term "outgoing long wave IR radiation" may prove more difficult to convey, but ultimately is a clearer depiction of Earth's energy balance.

About the Science

  • The animation is an accurate general overview of Earth's energy balance, but educators should recognize some of the sun/Earth dynamics have been oversimplified.
  • For example, the atmosphere does filter out some short wave energy from the sun, such as extreme ultraviolet and X-rays.
  • In general, the animation provides a good overview of the incoming shortwave radiation from the sun, and Earth radiating long wave Infrared Radiation (IR) once it has been warmed by the short wave visible and IR.
  • Comment from expert scientist: Animation is a clear illustration of the physical process, but should only be used at an entry level.

About the Pedagogy

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Animation is simple and easy to access.
  • This animation contains a short quiz at the end.

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