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Tropical Atlantic Aerosols

Rex Roettger, NASA - My NASA Data Collection

Students use real satellite data to determine 1) where the greatest concentrations of aerosols are located during the course of a year in the tropical Atlantic region and 2) their source of origin. This is an inquiry-style lesson where students pull real aerosol data and attempt to identify trends among data sets.

Activity takes about one 50-minute class period. Computer access is very desirable for effectiveness of lesson

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Role of aerosols in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.

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

  • Students should have access to maps, atlases, and globes.
  • Educator might want to get the graphs and other documents ahead of time, but students need to view color graphs in color. Educator needs either color copy or computers to view. Graphs are preferably viewed on a computer.
  • Extension activity poses the question: "Will the data of aerosols and hurricanes show a relationship?" The trend is not easily identifiable, thus the inquiry-style lesson. Educator should expect to guide students' ideas as they examine the data.
  • To reduce in-class activity time and preserve all lesson objectives, have students look at all links the night before.
  • In order to complete activity in suggested time frame (50-minute class session), educator should download all documents for students, but this may take away from the data exploration objective of the lesson.

About the Science

  • The use of Earth Observatory and NASA Data makes for excellent learning.
  • A great way to reach understanding of radiative effects of aerosols, implications to climate, and NASA satellite observations.
  • A lot of background information and data sources are provided.
  • Comment from scientist: Not an appropriate description that dust leads to clouds which lead to storm formation. Needs clarification by educator.

About the Pedagogy

  • Educator can download attached PDF teaching tips.
  • Educator should be trained or experienced in inquiry-style teaching due to the open-endedness of the lesson.
  • Students will need familiarity with computers to navigate the lesson.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Downloads times from the database can be significant.

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