Earth-Sun Relationship
The Sun & its Energy
Earth & its Atmosphere
Solar Radiation in the Atmosphere
Atmospheric Environmental Concerns
Ozone Depletion
Global Climate Change
Regional Concerns
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Atmospheric System PDF
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Climate Change Data

Determining environmental impacts relies on two tools:

  • Observed data over a certain time period that is then extrapolated to predict future scenarios.
  • Model results using mathematical models that are either theoretical, empirical, or a combination of both. These models are used to APPROXIMATE reality and then to forecast future predictions. All math formulae are models in this sense. With computers, we can now model many types of scenarios.

There are pros and cons with both tools, primarily associated with how "approximate" our predictions are. Future climate predictions are based primarily of the use of large-scale mathematical models that rely on our current knowledge of the interactions between the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and our societal impact on these three. The science is far from certain. Therefore, it is also good for you to look at observed data to see if you believe the current "gloom and doom" predictions about climate change.

: Use the NOAA database of climate predictions ( to find one location anywhere in the world that has recorded climate data for approximately 100 years. If you want a more direct link to one of the many databases at the site then refer to Pick one parameter to study (temperature, precipitation, or storm occurrence). Analyze the data over the recorded time period. You can choose how you want to analyze the data using your previous coursework, however you need to describe your method (1 page). Include all graphs, tables, etc. that you generate. Draw conclusions (in 1 page) about any trends you see.


Global Climate Negotiations

See "Global Climate Negotiations" under Role Playing Exercises.


Climate Change Paper

Answer the following question: Should the USA Ratify the Kyoto Agreement that Calls for a Reduction in the Production of Greenhouse Gases? Your answer will be graded by the quality of your scientific, economic, and policy arguments.


Acid Rain Comparison

Describe the acid rain problem in a similar manner as used for the ozone depletion problem. Conclude with a comparison of this problem to both the climate change and ozone depletion problems in terms of the similarities and differences.


Concept Map Exercise
Draw two concept maps - of the stratospheric ozone, its origin and impacts; and a parallel one for the tropospheric ozone.


  ©Copyright 2003 Carnegie Mellon University
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 9653194. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.