Atmosphere: Climate and Weather

Build a Rain Gauge

How much precipitation falls in your area? To find out, use the instructions below to create your own rain gauge. Then head outside to measure rainfall in your neighborhood.

Build Your Own Weather Station

Atmospheric scientists study weather processes, the global dynamics of climate, solar radiation and its effects, and the role of atmospheric chemistry in ozone depletion, climate change, and pollution. They observe what's going on in our atmosphere today and compare it to records from years past. To monitor the weather, atmospheric scientists use highly specialized instruments that measure rainfall, wind speed and direction, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. You can measure these at your home or school. Begin creating a weather station by building a psychrometer, also called a hygrometer, to measure the relative humidity.

Climate and Temperature

Learn how Earth's climate effects soil types all over the planet.

Dangerous Atmosphere

How much of a danger does severe weather pose for the area where you live? You can compute the answer yourself in this exercise.

Energy Efficiency

Even in an area with an extreme climate, the ground maintains a relatively constant temperature. Because of this, a house that is built partly or entirely underground can be more energy-efficient than a home above ground. During the winter, the ground is warmer than the air. During the summer, it is cooler. Any large mass of earth tends to maintain a constant temperature. You can see for yourself how this works by testing how long it takes for a thermometer buried in sand or soil to reach the temperature of surrounding air.

Exploring Climate Change with GIS

The factors at play in shaping our climate as well as the manifestation of its effects are geographic in nature. Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and methods are vital in documenting, monitoring, analyzing, and predicting these dynamic activities and interdependencies. Climate scientists and others in numerous careers and disciplines use GIS and its integrative nature to tackle these issues. You can, too.

Greenhouse in a Beaker

Carbon is naturally found in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, itself is not considered a pollutant. The CO2 being released from burning fossil fuels was part of the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago before being captured by plants and sea organisms.

Look Up!

The following activity is designed to help you learn to listen, read, and communicate in both written and oral formats about the sky.

Make a Thunderstorm

When warm and cold air masses meet, a thunderstorm can grow. Thunderstorms also cause heavy rain, flash flooding, hail, strong winds and tornadoes. In this activity, you will learn about convection and how air moves.

Mapping the Atmosphere

A map can represent data from an area on a flat surface. The part of our Earth system most frequently mapped is the atmosphere. Weather—the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time—needs constant monitoring because it perpetually changes as weather systems evolve and move.

Awareness of what the weather is and is likely to be has numerous benefits. Weather can be hazardous, causing injuries, death, and loss of property. Weather maps are valuable analytical tools for informing people about current or future conditions.


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