Weather and Climate

Logs of Straw - Dendrocronology

Dendrochronologists use tree rings to go back in time to learn more about past climate. Using straws to recreate tree rings, you can learn how dendrochronologists work.

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.

Ocean Acidification

The ocean is a “carbon sink,” which means that it removes CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. The ocean currently absorbs about one-third of the CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels.

However, beyond a certain level of atmospheric CO2, the ocean can no longer act as a carbon sink without it having a negative impact on marine life. When CO2 dissolves in seawater, it leads to decreased pH levels. The ocean becomes less alkaline. This is referred to as ocean acidification.

Ocean Currents

In this activity, students will learn the pattern of major ocean currents and how they are changed by wind, land and water.

Ocean Currents Change Our Earth

Ocean currents — the continuous, directed movement of ocean water — affect regional climates and alter the biological and chemical characteristics of seawater.

Sky and Cloud Windows

In this activity, students will conduct experiments or participate in demonstrations to answer questions about sky and weather phenomena. Students also will analyze and present data.

Soil Moisture

Where is the water in soil? Solids, liquids, and gasses, the three phases of matter, are always present in soil. Small mineral and organic particles comprise the solid fraction, and there are spaces (pores) between the solid particles. Some pores are large, and others are very small. Air and water, the gas and liquid phases, exist in the pores. The size of the soil particles and pores affects how much water a soil can hold, and how that water moves through the soil.

Step by Step Weather Observations

As a citizen scientist, you can take your own air temperatures with an outdoor thermometer and compare your readings to the official ones from the National Weather Service. It is important that you follow the correct procedures, however, for placing your thermometer. This activity will help you to do that, as well as find out what the normal yearly average temperature is for each day.

Temperature and Precipitation Connections

No matter where we are on Earth, we can observe changes in vegetation. Some changes are drastic, such as going from dormant to full growth during a temperate winter.

Vegetative growth is dependent on both surface temperature (which influences soil temperature) and precipitation (which influences soil moisture). Together these environmental variables help determine the beginning, duration, and end of the growing season; the latter marked by leaf senescence, when leaves of deciduous trees die and turn colors.


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