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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Environmental Science
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Lecture Comments (3)

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Post by Martina Maurici on September 20, 2015

How difference  in climate lead to formation of tropical , temperate, and a polar desert, grassland, and forest?

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Last reply by: Martina Maurici
Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:16 PM

Post by Bryan Cardella on January 11, 2015

NOTE: There is an update regarding the U.S. and international agreements associated with emissions and climate change. As of November 2014 (after this lesson was recorded) Obama and China's president, Xi Jinping, agreed to an international deal on carbon emissions. The U.S. pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025, and China pledged to have its carbon emissions peak around 2030. Time will tell if these countries hold up to the agreement. Many experts are skeptical and think it will end up being "business as usual".

Also, keep in mind that Obama pledged in a 2009 U.N. accord to cut emissions by even MORE than this latest agreement says.

Atmosphere & Climate Change

  • Important fundamental questions on global warming include: “what is known about periods of warming prior to human existence?” and “To what extent have people caused (or hastened) it?”
  • Weather and climate are very different concepts. Evidence about the changes to climate in the past are very informative for making predictions about what will happen to the climate in the near future
  • Greenhouse gases (which trap heat energy in the atmosphere) include: carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, nitrous oxide, and water. The greenhouse effect involves the accumulation of greenhouse gases, leading to a gradual warming of the atmosphere
  • The atmosphere is composed of 4 major layers (thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere), and from top to bottom it varies in temperature, pressure, ozone concentration, etc.
  • We study climate through the instrumental record, the historical record, and the paleo-proxy record. Physical evidence that gives us the data includes: ice cores, tree rings, sediments, corals, and radioactive carbon isotope dating
  • There are possibilities of negative AND positive feedback loops involved with temperature change over time with our climate
  • Causes of climate change include: Milankovitch cycles, solar cycles, albedo effects, roughness of the Earth, chemistry of life, and climate forcing
  • Oceans and climate have an intimate relationship and there’s plenty of evidence to support that (sinking/upwelling of water, warming of Northern Europe, El Niño and La Niña)
  • Climate change can be forecasted via past observations/research and computer simulations
  • Potential changes due to human-caused effects: rise in sea level, glaciers and sea ice melting, changes in river flow, changes in biological diversity, drops in agricultural productivity, negative human health effects
  • The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement among many countries to reduce the amount of carbon being put into the atmosphere. The U.S. agreed to it in theory but not in practice!

Atmosphere & Climate Change

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Fundamental Questions on Global Warming 0:06
  • Weather vs. Climate 3:28
    • Weather
    • Climate
    • Weather is Affected by Many Factors
    • Climate is Always Changing
  • Atmospheric Composition 9:10
  • Factors That Influence Climate 11:12
    • Air Mass and Pressure
    • Albedo
    • Altitude and Latitude
    • Humidity and Clouds
    • Angle of Sunlight
    • Carbon Cycle
    • Heat
    • Landmasses/ Mountains
    • Volcanoes
    • Pollution
    • Wind Patterns
  • Greenhouse Gases 17:10
    • Gases That Warm the Earth's Surface as They Accumulate in the Atmosphere
    • Examples
  • The Greenhouse Effect 21:05
    • Heat Trapped in Earth by Greenhouse Gases
    • Majority of Heat Radiates Back Into Outer Space
    • How It Works
  • The Atmosphere 25:01
    • Thermosphere
    • Mesosphere
    • Stratosphere
    • Troposphere
  • How We Study Climate 31:13
    • Instrumental Record
    • Historical Record
    • Paleo-Proxy Record
  • Climate Change and Feedback Loops 40:57
    • Negative Feedback
    • Positive Feedback
  • Causes of Climate Change 48:07
    • Milankovitch Cycles
    • Solar Cycles
    • Albedo Effects
    • Roughness of the Earth
    • Chemistry of Life
    • Climate Forcing
  • Oceans and Climate Change 56:22
    • Ocean/ Atmosphere Relationship
    • Ocean Conveyor Belt
    • El Niño
    • La Niña
  • Forecasting Climate Change 1:00:06
    • Past Observations and Research
    • Computer Simulations
    • Polar Amplification
  • Potential Environmental, Ecological, Human Effects 1:05:51
    • Changes in River Flow
    • Rise in Sea Levels
    • Glaciers and Sea Ice
    • Changes in Biodiversity
    • Agricultural Production
    • Human Health Effects
    • Options to Deal With It
  • Kyoto Protocol 1:13:18
    • International Agreement to Mitigate Global Warming
    • Cut of Carbon Dioxide Emissions
    • 2008: U.S. Agreed to 50% Reductions
    • 2010: No International Agreement with U.S.