This is the first of nine lessons in the "Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change" website. This lesson is an introduction to Earth's climate and covers key principles regarding Earth's unique climate, atmosphere, and regional and temporal climate differences.

In this video Dr. Richard Alley poses and addresses a simple question: What does carbon dioxide have to do with global warming?

This NOAA video discusses how the ocean absorbs the increased amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, thereby changing the pH and buffering action of the ocean. These changes in pH are impacting calcifying organisms, such as corals and shellfish, and related food chains and ecosystems.

In this activity, students learn how carbon cycles through the Earth system by playing an online game.

This video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.

This video is from the Energy 101 video series. It explains the process for converting micro-algae into fuel and makes the case that algae-based biofuels hold enormous potential for helping reduce our dependence on imported oil.

This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.

This NASA animation on land cover change zooms into Rondonia, Brazil. It starts with a Landsat satellite image taken in 1975 and dissolves into a second image of the same region taken in 2009 indicating that there has been a significant amount of land use change.

This activity develops students' understanding of climate by having them make in-depth examinations of historical climate patterns using both graphical and map image formats rather than presenting a general definition of climate. Students explore local climate in order to inform a pen pal what type of weather to expect during an upcoming visit. Students generate and explore a variety of graphs, charts, and map images and interpret them to develop an understanding of climate.

This activity engages students in the analysis of climate data to first find areas in the southern United States that are now close to having conditions in which the malaria parasite and its mosquito hosts thrive and then attempt to forecast when areas might become climatically suitable.