In education, Earth's energy budget is a concept that generally appears in middle school and Earth science curricula, but its treatment in textbooks leaves much to be desired. Students and the public hold many misconceptions, and very few people have an appreciation for the importance of this energy balance to the conditions on Earth. More importantly, few have a correct mental model that allows them to make predictions and understand the effect of changes such as increasing greenhouse gas concentrations (Libarkin et al, 2013).
As an outreach element of the core CERES team at NASA Langley, a multi-disciplinary group of scientists, educators, graphic artists, writers, and web developers has been developing and refining graphics and resources to explain the Earth's Energy budget over the last few decades. Resources have developed through an iterative process involving ongoing use in front of a variety of audiences, including students and teachers from 3rd to 12th grade as well as public audiences. The resulting collection of energy budget resources is available online at: http://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/energy_budget/ The collection includes an updated energy budget diagram following the model of Trenberth et al, 2009, using the most up to date values (currently based on a decade of CERES data). Accompanying this diagram is a series of explanatory panels that can be used in a create your own classroom poster.
After years of experience using this diagram in talks for students, we also developed an Energy Budget story a series of powerpoint slides that build up the diagram one piece at a time and allow students to follow the energy as the diagram comes together. We have found this to be an effective way to engage students with this rather complex diagram, and we continue to update and enhance the slide set based on questions and comments from our audiences.
Additional and related resources for exploring the energy budget in the K-12 classroom are available as part of the MY NASA DATA (MND) project (http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov). This includes a number of radiation budget data parameters that are available in the MND Live Access Server (LAS) from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), CERES, and the Surface Radiation Budget (SRB) project under the auspices of the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX). The LAS offers a simplified (and unified) interface that enables practical exploration of authentic NASA data in the K-12 classroom. Accompanying these data are a variety of explanatory materials (click on the Educators fold, then hover over the Radiation & Energy left navigation button to see what is available), as well as a number of lesson plans that use those data.
Taken together, these resources form a rich collection of educational materials that can be used to explain the important concept of Earth's energy budget across a wide spectrum of audiences. This poster will invite comments and suggestions from attendees at the Conference on Atmospheric Radiation, while inviting them to learn about and use these resources for their own outreach.
Libarkin, J. C., H. Miller, S. R. Thomas, Scientists' internal models of the greenhouse effect, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 2013.
Loeb, N. G., B. A. Wielicki, D. R. Doelling, G. L. Smith, D. F. Keyes, S. Kato, N. Manalo-Smith, and T. Wong, Toward optimal closure of the Earth's top-of-atmosphere radiation budget (2009), J. Clim., 22(3), 748-766, doi:10.1175/2008jcli2637.1.
Trenberth, K. E., J. T. Fasullo, and J. Kiehl, Earth's Global Energy Budget, (2009) Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 90(3), 311-+, doi:10.1175/2008bams2634.1.