Greenhouse Gases: On a Tight Budget

March 26, 2011

We’re not the only ones who need to keep a balanced budget. Just like we all have budgets, the Earth has one too. If we spend too much money, our household budget gets out of balance. Likewise, with tons of excess carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, the Earth’s energy budget gets out of balance. Lin Chambers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center spoke with us today about how changes in the atmosphere (like humans adding literally tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year) can affect the climate.

So it works both ways – humans can affect the climate, and the climate affects us. We went outside and proved that for ourselves, and used Vernier temperature probes to record the temperatures of a variety of different materials and colors. Higher temperatures were recorded for darker colors, proving that old piece of advice you always get in the summer – wear a white shirt in the sun, not a black one. And what is one of the great things about the icy, white polar regions? They are like a white shirt for the Earth. If they melt, it unbalances the Earth’s budget even more. We all have to work on balancing this budget!

Comparing temperatures in sun and shade, and with different materials

1 Comment

  • By Amy, May 20, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

    I participated with the kids on this activity, it was extremely engaging and hands-on way to teach the science. Everyone had a meaningful role and contribution to the experiment as well as each learning how to use a new type of technology (the probes!) It was great!!

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