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Education: Activities & Documents

Investigating the Earth's Climate System - Energy
Water is a key element of the Earth's energy balance. The Sun's energy drives the water cycle, and in turn, water is a major factor in governing the surface temperature of the Earth.

This activity is based on, first, gathering experimental data that demonstrates the importance of surface type in the absorption of solar energy, and the importance of surface moisture in the Earth's overall energy balance and, therefore, in determining temperature. Second, the experimental portion is followed by application of the information to solve real-world questions about land use and the connection between water and climate.

The activities are also designed to: 1) strengthen students' development of the use of the scientific method; 2) strengthen students' abilities to solve problems and work with data; and 3) increase students' knowledge about energy in the Earth system through hands-on experimentation, problem solving using traditional observation data, and extension of this knowledge to a larger, more global view using satellite information.

This module was developed as part of the series Investigating the Climate System. Grade level: 9-12 or higher. Credit: NASA.