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Greenhouse Effect Video - Scott Denning

Changing Climates project at Colorado State University UCAR with portions from Windows to the Universe, UCAR Center for Science Education

In this short video, atmospheric scientist Scott Denning gives a candid and entertaining explanation of how greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere warm our planet.

Video length is: 6:52 min.

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

  • Educator could embed this video in a lesson on the greenhouse effect and climate change.
  • Educator may want to provide some of the definitions to key words along with the video.
  • Working in small groups and class discussions will help students with different learning styles.
  • This video could be very useful for professional development for teachers prior to teaching the greenhouse effect. This is especially true for middle school teachers or high school teachers who are not fluent in climate science. The method of explanations offered here are very easy to relate to.

About the Science

  • Scientist Denning describes the transformation of short-wave to long-wave radiation as the sun's energy strikes Earth; absorption and reflection of long-wave radiation when it interacts with different types of gaseous molecules in Earth's atmosphere; molecular structure and vibrational modes of greenhouse gases (CO2, H2O, and CH4) versus non-greenhouse gases (O2 and N2).
  • One caution: Dr. Denning compares atmospheric CO2 to "a bunch of little heat lamps." Educator should clarify that the heat energy does not originate from the CO2, but from sunlight absorbed by Earth and reflected back into the atmosphere as infrared radiation.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Video does a great job of breaking down the greenhouse effect into the principle physical components that drive it.
  • Video could be used as an introduction to a larger unit on climate change.
  • There are links below the video that describe more about the greenhouse effect including GHG vibrational modes.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video is embedded in the website but can be downloaded.
  • In full-screen mode, the video is somewhat grainy.
  • Video is also in the Windows to the Universe collection and on YouTube.

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

Associated site on http://scied.ucar.edu/climate

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.A1:Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes.

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.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

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

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.

HS-PS4.B2:When light or longer wavelength electromagnetic radiation is absorbed in matter, it is generally converted into thermal energy (heat). Shorter wavelength electromagnetic radiation (ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma rays) can ionize atoms and cause damage to living cells

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