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Atmospheric Processes

US Department of Energy, Climate Placemat: Energy-Climate Nexus, US Department of Energy Office of Science

This image depicts a representative subset of the atmospheric processes related to aerosol lifecycles, cloud lifecycles, and aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions that must be understood to improve future climate predictions.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts

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

  • Best used to show the connections between aerosols heating and the water cycle.
  • May function well as a culminating visual.

About the Science

  • Illustrative image shows aerosol life cycles, cloud life cycles and aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions.
  • The illustrations shows the amount of exchange in qualitative ways but no actual numbers are given.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The image summarizes different processes leading to formation and removal of natural and anthropogenic aerosol and how such aerosol would affect cloud formation and lifetime and radiation. Although the image is a nice summary of all the different processes leading to formation of primary and secondary atmospheric aerosol, their impact on cloud formation and radiative balance, there is no written description of these processes. Therefore the overall usefulness of the image on its own to those not familiar with the topic is minimal.

About the Pedagogy

  • Well designed image.
  • Many of the terms are very complex and may need to be defined.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Can download a print quality image in 72, 150 or 300 resolution.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

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.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Systems and System Models

HS-C4.2:When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

HS-C4.3:Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales.

HS-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

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