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The Effects of Atmospheric Particles on Climate

ThinkTV, Teachers' Domain

This video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.

Video length 4:13 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

  • See Teaching Tips provided with video.
  • Educators may want to have students view the video individually.

About the Science

  • Dramatic images adapted from NOAA reveal the regions where atmospheric particles are concentrated, and their patterns of movement around the globe.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The direct radiative impact of aerosols is well-described for this educational level, in my view. Black carbon absorbs, Sulfate reflects. The students will gain an understanding of atmospheric aerosols, that they are naturally occurring and man-generated, that they’re not one kind, and they impact the climate. I also appreciate the effort to show that there are regional and local variations on aerosol impacts.

About the Pedagogy

  • Background essay, teaching tips, and standards alignment provided with video.
  • Well-structured explanation of the effect of aerosols on incoming solar radiation.
  • Information is provided at a rapid pace, making the video content very dense.
  • The lack of science jargon makes this video appropriate for middle school as well as high school and lower level college.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent quality but small viewing window. The resolution is very low, so projecting for the entire class will not be possible. Suggest downloading the video.
  • Very good graphics.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

MS-PS4.B1:When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and the frequency (color) of the light.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

HS-PS3.D1:Although energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms—for example, to thermal energy in the surrounding environment.

HS-PS4.A1:The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of travel of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing.

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