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Global Warming: Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.matter.co2/

FRONTLINE/NOVA, WGBH Educational Foundation, Teachers' Domain

This video segment demonstrates carbon dioxide's role in the greenhouse effect and explains how increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere may be contributing to global warming. Video includes an unusual demonstration of C02's heat-absorbing properties, using infrared film, a researcher's face, and a stream of C02 between them.

Video length: 2:26 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
Other materials addressing 2c

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
Energy affects quality of life .
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.
Other materials addressing:
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

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.
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

  • This short video should be used to clarify the role of carbon dioxide in absorbing infrared energy re-radiated from Earth's surface. It will enhance student understanding of the greenhouse effect. The teacher will need to prepare to lead discussion following the video, using the essay and links provided.

About the Science

  • Video includes a simple and effective demonstration of how carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation – an idea often presented poorly in the usual discussions of the greenhouse gas effect.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This resource includes a background essay, simple discussion questions, and links to national and state standards.
  • The background essay discusses the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and the idea that some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities is unaccounted for. Later work http://www.nature.com/climate/2007/0708/full/climate.2007.35.html argued that this missing carbon sink is in the greater-than-expected role of tropical forests.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The online version of the video is not of sufficient resolution for projection. The downloadable version will work better.

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