Sunday, November 21, 2010

Module VII - Changing Climate Introduction

Sample of coquina
Explain - What new learning have I taken from this module?

This module was a great reminder about the eons of natural carbon sequestration that has been taking place since the dawn of life on this planet.  I was amazed to learn how much life has changed the atmosphere and how life and the atmosphere have evolved in unison.  In light of how much carbon has been sequestered, this makes a lot of sense, though it's not obvious without being pointed out.

When discussing climate change, I have often pointed out that when you burn the wood of a tree, you are re-releasing the carbon into the atmsophere that that tree has been removing for the last hundred years, or so.  Likewise, when you burn oil, you are now going back millions of years and releasing the carbon that was sequestered, then.  I had heard about carbon sequestration in the form of calcium carbonate in the shells of animals, but hadn't really thought about what a vast cache of carbon this represents.  It is a bit depressing to think about the increased acidification of the oceans making it harder for organisms to precipitate calcium carbonate from the water.  Yet another positive feedback loop.

The video about Inuit observations of climate change reminded me of discussions with villagers, a few years ago, about how the winters along the lower Kuskokwim just weren't as severe as they were 20 years earlier.  One of my last years in Tuluksak, the mercury dropped below freezing in early October and didn't get above freezing until late March.  All of the older villagers said that was how winter was supposed to be.  It was the only such winter that I experienced, there, in five years.

Extend and Evaluate - How can I use this week's resources and how useful, insightful or relevant are this module's information resources to me?

Helix Nebula
The video The Elements - Forged in Stars brought me back to my Freshman Astronomy class in college.  I will use this in both my Earth Science class and my Physical Science classes.

I will also use the video Ingredients for Life - Carbon in my Physical Science classes when we touch on organic compounds and why such a vast variety of carbon-based compounds exist.

The video Global Warming:  Carbon Dioxide and The Greenhouse Effect shows a great demonstration of how effective carbon dioxide is when it comes to absorbing heat energy.  It's a great visual when the infrared image of the scientist's face disappears behind a chamber of carbon dioxide.

The Capturing Carbon clip will be a great motivator when it's time to put on a science fair.  How great is it that the scientist was able to put his daughter's project into actual use?

Three colleagues and three comments

- I agreed with Alison's comment about how amazing it is that the lowly parrot fish can create all that sand in the coral reefs.  It'll give me pause the next time I curl my toes into the coral sands of Hawaii.

- I enjoyed Kathy's photos on last week's blog.

- Marilyn's blog reminded me how powerful the images on the Information is Beautiful website are.  She also mentioned a song by Tom Lehrer that I, too, play for my classes when we study the elements.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your comments about winter in Tuluksak. Anecdotal observations from elders tell us a lot.