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Experiment setup: click on the Greenhouse Effect tab at the top of the simulation screen.

2. Experiment procedure:

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a. Click Reset All at the bottom right of the screen. Click Yes in the box that pops up.

b. In the Greenhouse Gas Composition box, move the slider to none . The simulation will run automatically for an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases.

c. As the simulation runs, carefully observe the number and paths of both sunlight photons (also called solar, or visible radiation) and infrared photons (also called terrestrial, or infrared radiation), and the change in temperature on the thermometer. If needed, slow the simulation down in order to accurately observe what is happening. Write down your observations.

d. Allow the simulation to run until the thermometer settles on a temperature (when the atmosphere reaches equilibrium). Record this temperature. This is the equilibrium temperature of an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases or clouds. Note that the temperature may fluctuate slightly once it reaches equilibrium, so do not be concerned about the exactness of your recorded temperature.

e. Click the button for Today in the Atmosphere During… box. The simulation will now illustrate the atmospheric greenhouse effect and resulting atmospheric temperature for today’s atmosphere.

f. As the simulation runs, again carefully observe the number and paths of both sunlight photons and infrared photons, and the change in temperature on the thermometer. If needed, slow down the simulation in order to accurately observe what is happening. Note the difference in photon paths for the atmosphere with greenhouse gases compared to without. Write down your observations.

g. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are: water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). “PPM” is the abbreviation for “parts per million.” Record the greenhouse gas composition values for CO2, CH4, N2O, and H2O.

h. Allow the simulation to run until the thermometer settles on a temperature (when the atmosphere reaches equilibrium). Record this temperature. Note that the temperature may fluctuate slightly once it reaches equilibrium, so do not be concerned about the exactness of your recorded temperature.

i. Click the button next to Ice Age in the Atmosphere During… box. The simulation will now illustrate the atmospheric greenhouse effect and resulting atmospheric temperature during an ice age.

j. Repeat the above steps f through h to make observations and record the equilibrium temperature for the atmosphere during an ice age.

 

Experiment 1 – Results and Conclusions

1. Based on your observations while conducting the experiment, formulate a written discussion that describes the effect of

a. The atmosphere (with or without greenhouse gases) on incoming energy from the sun

b. Atmospheric greenhouse gases on outgoing Earth energy

2. Compare the observed values of equilibrium temperature for each of the simulated atmospheres in Experiment 1. Then, formulate a written statement that generalizes the effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere’s equilibrium temperature.

 

Experiment 2: The Effect of Clouds on Atmospheric Temperature

In this experiment, you will observe the effect of clouds on atmospheric temperature.

Before completing the experiment, write down a hypothesis, based on your current understanding, that predicts the effect of clouds on atmospheric temperature.

1. Experiment setup: click on the Greenhouse Effect tab at the top of the simulation screen.

2. Experiment procedure:

a. Repeat steps a through d in Experiment 1. (Note that the equilibrium temperature should be the same as the one recorded in step d of Experiment 1).

b. In the Options box next to Number of Clouds, place three clouds into the atmosphere by clicking the up arrow three times, so that “3” is showing.

c. As the simulation runs, carefully observe the number and paths of both sunlight photons and infrared photons, as well as the change in temperature on the thermometer. If needed, slow down the simulation in order to accurately observe what is happening. Write down your observations.

d. Again, allow the simulation to run until the thermometer settles on an equilibrium temperature. This is the equilibrium temperature of an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases and with clouds. Record this temperature.

 

Experiment 2 – Results and Conclusions

1. Based on your observations while conducting the experiment, formulate a written discussion that describes the effect of clouds on

a. Incoming energy from the sun

b. Outgoing Earth energy

2. Develop a written statement describing the effect of clouds on the equilibrium temperature of the atmosphere.

 

Experiment 3: Glass Layers

In this experiment, you will observe what happens to the air temperature in a real greenhouse, by placing virtual glass panes in the atmosphere.

Before completing the experiment, write down a hypothesis, based on your current understanding, that predicts the effects of the glass panes on atmospheric temperature.

1. Experiment setup: click on the Glass Layers tab at the top of the simulation screen.

2. Experiment procedure:

a. Click Reset All on the right side of the screen. The simulation will start running automatically for an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases and no panes of glass in the atmosphere.

b. As the simulation runs, carefully observe the number and paths of both sunlight photons (visible radiation) and infrared photons (terrestrial radiation), and the change in temperature on the thermometer. If needed, slow the simulation down in order to accurately observe what is happening. Write down your observations.

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