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Greenhouse Gases - IR Spectra

Amanda Thompson, Katrina Genuis, P. Mahaffy, King's Center for Visualization in Science

This animation allows students to explore the infrared spectra of greenhouse gases and depict the absorption spectra. Vibrational modes and Earth's energy spectrum can also be overlaid.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

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

  • Helpful to read the "Getting Started", "Helpful Hints", and "Assumptions" tabs under the Help menu before using the simulation. Provide some starting points for exploring the relationships displayed in the simulation.
  • Educators might need to review Earth's energy balance and note that the energy that is emitted from Earth is longwave radiation.

About the Science

  • Great visualization of 8 different greenhouse gas IR spectra (H2O, C3F8, O3, CFCl3, CO2, CH4, CF2Cl2, N2O) showing their relative intensity v. wavelength.
  • Well-designed animation that allows students to view the molecular structure of greenhouse gases and their absorption spectrum.
  • Animation provides background information to understand the significance of infrared absorption.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • The information provided under the Help menu could be used as a start to guided questions or further exploration; however, outside research and basic understanding of the topic might be necessary to use the simulation to its full potential.
  • Animation facilitates understanding about absorption of infrared radiation.
  • No framing questions provided with this animation, but they can easily be designed.
  • Lesson for which this applet was designed can be seen at http://www.explainingclimatechange.ca/Climate%20Change/Lessons/Lesson%206/lesson6.html#, also found in the CLEAN collection.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Can only be viewed online.
  • Shockwave Flash file; requires browser plug-in

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Visualization supports:

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