Hurricanes are among the most common and most destructive types of natural hazards on Earth. Because they occur across space and time, hurricanes can be better understood using maps, particularly digital maps within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment. GIS allows you to use maps as analytical tools—not maps that someone else has made—but using your own maps to make decisions.
Scientists collect data to understand Earth and how it changes. Quantitative data involves taking measurements, while qualitative data are observations and descriptions of phenomena. When it comes to climate, scientists try to collect as much and as many types of data as possible to be able to analyze how climate is changing and what effects it is having. Because climate affects all areas of the world, collecting this data is a large undertaking. This is where you can help.
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.
Soil erosion is the process of moving soil by water or wind — this happens naturally or through human interference. Preventing soil erosion is important because nutrients are lost, and sediment that accumulates in waterways impacts life there. Conserving soil depends on how it is protected by plants and coverings.
You will model erosion by water and compare the amounts of runoff and soil loss generated from three different ground cover types.
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.
Soil is a vital component of almost every ecosystem, and its health often determines the viability of the whole ecosystem. If a soil cannot support the living organisms within it – such as insects, bacteria, fungi, and plant roots – then it is likely that the entire ecosystem will suffer. The same is true on farms. The success of crops is dependent on the health of the soil.
In this activity, students will learn the pattern of major ocean currents and how they are changed by wind, land and water.
We are surrounded by objects that we depend upon for our everyday lives. From our clothes to our phones, bikes, cars, showers, plates, chairs, televisions, computers, and nearly everything else, we rely on objects made of a variety of materials. But where do those materials come from in the first place, and what happens when we run out of them?
Learn about ocean currents and systems in this activity from NOAA.
Every two to seven years, trade-winds in the Pacific Ocean slow down or reverse their direction — no one is sure why. But when the trade winds slow down, everything changes. Water temperatures become warmer in the eastern Pacific and colder in the west. Nutrient upwelling slows, and fish populations become much smaller along the Pacific coast of South America. Rainfall follows the warmer water, causing flooding in Peru and drought in Indonesia and Australia. Because these changes can be highly destructive, advance warning of El Niño’s approach is important for emergency preparation. NOAA satellites are constantly collecting information on sea surface temperatures around the globe. NOAA also operates a network of buoys that measure temperature, currents, and winds in the tropical Pacific Ocean.