Summary: What happens when humans burn fossil fuels? The excess carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere causes the many climate change impacts explored in other areas of this module. In this topic guide, learn how CO2 is measured, interpret data charts to describe how CO2 levels have changed over time, and and find out what the current average CO2 levels are.
Concepts to teach:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Stability and Change, Cause and Effect
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
- ESS3.A – Natural Resources
- Science Practices
- Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information
- When humans burn fossils fuels, CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere
- CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap heat and raise the temperature of the planet
- Measurements of atmospheric CO2 show that the levels are increasing
Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations
- 4-ESS3-1.Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
Students will be able to:
- Describe ways in which CO2 gets into the atmosphere
- Obtain scientific information that describes how atmospheric CO2 levels change with seasons and across years
- Compare current CO2 levels to past levels
Activity Links and Resources:
- How is CO2 measured?
- NASA Climate Kids—This online resource provides a variety of online elementary lessons about carbon and its impacts, including:
- The Story of Fossil Fuels Part One, Two, Three and Four
- Planet Health Report, AIR—Describes the term ‘parts per million’, identifies 350 ppm as a healthy target level for CO2
- Climate Time Machine—This interactive map shows changes in CO2 levels over time
- Greenhouse Effect: Keeping the Balance—Too much CO2 and other greenhouse gases raise the temperature of the planet
- Greenhouse Effect—A detailed description of how gases in the atmosphere trap heat
- Mauna Loa Observatory
- Check this week’s average current atmospheric carbon dioxide level and see how it compares to weeks in the past
- Trends in Atmospheric CO2—Another interactive map that shows changes in CO2 levels over time
- How much has the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increased in the air just in the last few years?
- How do carbon dioxide levels vary throughout the year?