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Aerosols in the Atmosphere

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Services Center

This visualization is an animation showing the distribution of black carbon and sulfate aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere from 01/31/2007 to 02/04/2007 and clearly shows larger amounts of aerosols and black carbon in the atmosphere above heavily populated areas.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Science and Engineering Practice
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea

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 ask specific questions about black carbon and sulfate aerosols, and students could use this visualization to help answer questions.
  • Also related to aerosols specifically, check out the Europe Aerosols Campaign: http://www.globe.gov/web/europe-aerosols-campaign/overview Students can look at and compare data sets from others around the world with their own.

About the Science

  • This is a short, time-scaled animation displaying how black carbon or soot forms when fossil fuels, such as coal, are not fully burned. Sulfate aerosols come from the combustion of fossil fuels and the eruption of volcanoes. Both affect atmospheric air temperatures over time.
  • This animation clearly shows larger amounts of aerosols and black carbon in the atmosphere above heavily populated areas.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is a visually pleasing animation that shows where the most black carbon and sulfate aerosols are concentrated above areas with many people. Students can see where aerosols are concentrated, and also how atmospheric circulation moves aerosols around the globe.
  • Questions are embedded within the exercise, although answers should be hidden from plain view and set up as a drop down menu - to allow students to record their answers before actually seeing the answer.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Data is from 2007.
  • The animation plays from an online viewer. It may freeze while in use.
  • Additional resource links are broken.
  • The site usability isn't the best - scrolling over the buttons above the narrative makes the tabs inactive. Not intuitive that additional info is available.

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

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.C2:Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

MS-P6.4:Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real- world phenomena, examples, or events.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS3.D2:Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.

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