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Changing Planet: Black Carbon

NBC Learn, Windows to the Universe

This video addresses two ways in which black carbon contributes to global warming. When in the atmosphere, it absorbs sunlight and generates heat, warming the air. When deposited on snow and ice, black carbon changes the albedo of the surface. The video is effective in communicating about a problem frequently underrepresented in discussions of climate change and also public health.

Video length: 6:07 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

  • Having students study the health consequences of breathing black carbon from stoves or other sources could be a worthwhile add-on to a discussion of the production and impact of black carbon.
  • Researching impacts of black carbon and whether or not these impacts are occurring in the students' region of the country could also be worthwhile. For example, monitoring towers are in place for gathering data on changes in snow albedo in Grand Mesa in Colorado.

About the Content

  • The resource reviews emissions of black carbon and its contribution to climate change and public health concerns through the work of Dr. "Ram" V. Ramanathan of Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
  • From unmanned vehicles to measure black carbon in the atmosphere to the consequence of black carbon on snow (decreasing the albedo effect of snow-covered mountains and contributing to early snowmelt), the video covers black carbon's various causes and consequences.
  • The video describes efforts to reduce both environmental and health impacts of black carbon by developing and distributing cook stoves to communities in rural India.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video describes the well-known health and climate impacts of black carbon in an accurate but general manner. I feel this video acted more as an outreach tool rather than being a simple, but yet scientific piece demonstrating the effects.

About the Pedagogy

  • This video covers an important piece of the climate change issue that is not often presented. It is important to provide appropriate context for this material.
  • A related activity is available from Windows to the Universe: Changing Planet - Black Carbon

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent visuals accompany narration.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

An activity about this topic is in the CLEAN collection: Energy and the Poor: Black Carbon in Developing Nations.
Entered the Collection: March 2013 Last Reviewed: October 2016

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