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Unit 12: Earth's Changing Climate // Visuals

Animation(s)

Future CO<sub>2</sub> levels
Future CO2 levels
Carbon dioxide is predicted to reach 760 parts per million by the year 2100, twice the levels of today. View animation

Ice cores
Ice cores
Alternating wet and dry layers in the ice cores, representing seasons, provide precise annual records. View animation

Jasper Ridge plots
Jasper Ridge plots
The Jasper Ridge experiment consists of 128 different treatment areas, manipulating the 4 factors predicted in climate change models: carbon dioxide, heat, water, and nitrogen. View animation

Melting glaciers
Melting glaciers
Glaciers are disappearing and are giving us a very strong signal that the planet is warming. View animation

Polar ice cores
Polar ice cores
Ice cores taken from the polar regions, measuring Earth's climate history 650,000 years into the past, indicate each rise in carbon dioxide level is accompanied by a rise in temperature. View animation

Photograph(s)

Flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Damage along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 may be a preview of impacts in other low-lying regions as sea levels rise and storms become more frequent. View image

Polar bear hunting on Arctic sea ice
Polar bear hunting on Arctic sea ice
Polar bears hunt their prey from Arctic sea ice, so climate change threatens their survival. View image

Graphic(s)

Arctic sea ice coverage, 1979 and 2003
Arctic sea ice coverage, 1979 and 2003
According to NASA, Arctic perennial sea ice has been shrinking by 9 percent per decade since the 1970s. This process creates a positive climate feedback by reducing the amount of solar radiation that is reflected back into space from Earth's surface. View image

Atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> concentrations, 1958-2005
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations, 1958-2005
Charles David Keeling measured CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, more than 11,000 feet above sea level, to obtain data that did not include emissions from nearby vegetation or human activities. His measurements show a steady rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations over 47 years. View image

Comparison between modeled and observations of temperature rise since the year 1860
Comparison between modeled and observations of temperature rise since the year 1860
Climate models produce the best match for current trends when they are programmed to simulate both natural and manmade factors that drive climate change. View image

Components and interactions of the global climate system
Components and interactions of the global climate system
Earth's climate is a complex system influenced by sources and processes in the atmosphere, on land, and in the oceans. View image

Earth's energy balance
Earth's energy balance
Earth constantly absorbs energy from the sun and radiates energy back to space. Normally these processes balance each other, but human-driven emissions of greenhouse gases are altering the balance by retaining more heat in the atmosphere. View image

Global temperature record
Global temperature record
This time series shows the combined global land and marine surface temperature record from 1850 through 2006. View image

Hadley Centre GCM projection
Hadley Centre GCM projection
Climate scientists constantly update GCMs to reflect new insights into processes that drive climate change, such as cloud formation. View image

Ice sheet advance during the most recent ice age
Ice sheet advance during the most recent ice age
As recently as 15,000 years ago, during the Wisconsin Glaciation, ice sheets extended south into what are now the Midwestern states. Many North American landscape features, including Cape Cod, Long Island, and the Great Lakes, were shaped by this series of glacial advances and retreats. View image

Infectious diseases are affected by climate change
Infectious diseases are affected by climate change
Infective agents and their vector organisms are sensitive to factors such as temperature, surface water, humidity, wind, soil moisture, and changes in forest distribution. View image

Phenacodus, a sheep-sized herbivore found in the Eocene era
Phenacodus, a sheep-sized herbivore found in the Eocene era
Warm temperatures during the Eocene era favored smaller mammals, whose bodies were better able to manage heat than those of larger mammals that preceded them. View image

Pleistocene glacial deposits in Illinois
Pleistocene glacial deposits in Illinois
Thick deposits of various glacial soils cover much of the state of Illinois. View image

Surface air temperature increase, 1960 to 2060
Surface air temperature increase, 1960 to 2060
Global climate models calculate many variables that affect Earth's climate, such as air and ocean temperatures, cloud distribution, the size of polar ice caps, and the amount of solar radiation that the atmosphere absorbs and reflects. As the figure shows, climate change is projected to affect all regions of Earth, with the most extreme impacts near the poles. View image

Vostok ice-core CO<sub>2</sub>
Vostok ice-core CO2
This ice core data from Russia's Vostok research station at the center of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet shows atmospheric CO2 concentrations dating back more than 400,000 years. View image

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