carbon-through-the-seasons - CARBON THROUGH THE SEASONS...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
CARBON THROUGH THE SEASONS 1 www.epa.gov/climatestudents TIME: Introduction : 60 90 minutes LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Students will: Learn about the carbon cycle Understand how seasonal variations affect global atmospheric CO 2 concentrations Understand how CO 2 concentrations in the atmosphere are changing overall in recent decades NATIONAL SCIENCE STANDARDS: Content Standard A: Science as inquiry Content Standard D: Earth and space science Content Standard E: Science and technology ADAPTED FROM: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gsd/outreach/e ducation/poet/CO2-Seasons.pdf . DESCRIPTION In this lesson plan, students learn about the carbon cycle and understand how concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) in the Earth’s atmosphere vary as the seasons change. Students also learn that even with these seasonal variations, the overall amount of CO 2 is increasing in the atmosphere as a result of people’s activities, which are changing the natural carbon cycle. BACKGROUND Carbon is a chemical element that is found all over the world and in every living thing. Oxy gen is another element that’s found in the air we breathe. When carbon and oxygen bond together, they form a colorless, odorless gas called CO 2 . In the Earth’s atmosphere, CO 2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps heat. This “greenhouse effect” naturally helps to keep the Earth’s temperature at a level that can support life on the planet. The atmosphere isn't the only part of the Earth that has carbon. The oceans store large amounts of carbon, and so do plants, soil, and deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas deep underground. Carbon constantly moves from one part of the Earth to another through a natural repeating pattern called the carbon cycle. The carbon cycle helps to maintain a balanced level of CO 2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. But right now, people are changing this natural balance by adding more CO 2 to the atmosphere whenever we burn fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) whether it's to drive our cars, use electricity, or make products. This extra CO 2 is being added to the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove it, causing the atmosphere to trap more heat and causing the Earth’s average temperature to rise. Scientists have found that the recent levels of CO 2 in the atmosphere are abnormally high compared with the long-term historical trend, and these levels are continuing to increase at an unprecedented rate. The amount of CO 2 found in the atmosphere varies over the course of a year. Much of this variation happens because of the role of plants in the carbon cycle. Plants use CO 2 from the atmosphere, along with sunlight and water, to make food and other substances that they need to grow. They release oxygen into the air as a byproduct. This process is called photosynthesis. Another process that is part of the carbon cycle is respiration, by which plants and animals take up oxygen and release CO 2 back into the atmosphere.
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern