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Studying Global Warming in Biosphere 2
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/wnet08.sci.life.oate.wnetglobal/

Thirteen, WNET, Teachers' Domain

In this video segment, two students discuss the greenhouse effect and visit with research scientists at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, who research the effects of global climate change on organisms in a controlled facility. Their current research (as of 2002) focuses on the response to increased quantities of CO2 in a number of different model ecosystems.

Video length: 4:57 minutes.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The amount of solar energy absorbed or radiated by Earth is modulated by the atmosphere and depends on its composition. Greenhouse gases—such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane—occur naturally in small amounts and absorb and release heat energy more efficiently than abundant atmospheric gases like nitrogen and oxygen. Small increases in carbon dioxide concentration have a large effect on the climate system.
About Teaching Principle 2
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Energy Literacy

Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Sometimes, scientists can control conditions in order to obtain evidence. When that is not possible, practical, or ethical, they try to observe as wide a range of natural occurrences as possible to discern patterns.
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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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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

  • Students should be familiar with photosynthesis and respiration prior to watching the video.

About the Science

  • Discusses how human activities have increasingly affected the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Research scientists demonstrate and talk about their research, results and implications of increasing CO2 concentrations.
  • Scientists debunk the myth that CO2 increase is positive for plants (a common argument being made when looking at photosynthesis - if plants need CO2 to live, an increase of CO2 is good for plants).
  • The current CO2 level in the atmosphere is 394 ppm (March 2012)- the number in the video is out of date.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video is excellent scientifically in giving the message to the 5th and 6th graders that CO2 increase does not just warm the earth atmosphere, but it impacts the ecosystems such as the rain forests, and that the impacts lead to feed backs that can in turn enhance the CO2 budget of the atmosphere. It would be great to provide some messages regarding the long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere.

About the Pedagogy

  • A background essay, discussion questions, and a link to standards are provided.
  • Main characters in video are two students (an Asian girl and a Caucasian boy) who discuss the greenhouse effect. Students will likely be able to relate to these characters.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • No technical problems on a PC with Firefox. Accessing video on Mac and with Safari was difficult.

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