Using the Web

1a.
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Mars and Venus:

Do a news search for “Mars water.” What are the most recent discoveries? What is the evidence being reported, and when was the water thought to have existed? What was different on Mars at that time so that it was able to have liquid water?
1b.
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Go to the website for ESA’s Venus Express mission (http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=64). What are the latest results?
2.
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Look up the data on this year’s ozone hole. NASA’s “Ozone Hole Watch” website (http://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov) shows a daily image of southern ozone, as well as animations for current and previous years and some comparative plots. Other comparative plots are available on the Web pages for NASA’s space-based ozone measurements (http://ozoneaq.gsfc.nasa.gov/instruments.md) and NOAA’s “Southern Hemisphere Ozone Hole Area” (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/sbuv2to/gif_files/ozone_hole_plot.png). At what time of year is the hole the largest, and why? How do the most recent ozone holes compare to previous ones in size and minima? Do they seem to be getting smaller?
3.
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Go to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) website (http://nsidc.org). What are the current status and the trend of the Arctic sea ice? How does it compare with previous years and with the median shown? (More data might be reported on NOAA’s Arctic theme Web page: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov.) Is anything new reported about Antarctic ice? Qualitatively, how might a change in the amount of ice at Earth’s poles affect the albedo of Earth, and how does the albedo affect Earth’s temperature?
4.
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Go to the website for the MAVEN mission, scheduled for launch in late 2013 (http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven). What are the scientific goals of the mission? Will this mission be a lander, an orbiter, or a flyby? What instruments will be used? How will this mission contribute to the understanding of climate change on Mars? Go to the NASA Web pages for MAVEN (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/main/index.html). Has it been launched? Has it arrived on Mars? Is it taking data; are there any results?
5.
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Several groups are running simulated Mars missions or flights to Mars, including the Mars Institute’s (http://marsinstitute.info) Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, the Mars Society’s (http://marssociety.org) MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) and FMARS (Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station) projects, and the Russian Mars-500 (http://mars500.imbp.ru/en/index_e.html) and European Mars500 (http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Mars500) projects. In what ways are these analog sites like Mars and in what ways are they significantly different? What has been learned from these projects?
6a.
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Climate change:

Go to the timeline on the “Discovery of Global Warming” Web page of the American Institute of Physics (http://aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm). When did scientists first suspect that CO2 produced by humans might affect Earth’s temperature? When were other anthropogenic greenhouse gases identified? When did scientific opinion about global warming start to converge? Click on “Venus & Mars”; how did observations of these planets add to an understanding of global climate change? Click on “Aerosols”; how do these contribute to “global dimming”?
6b.
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Go to the website for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (http://www.giss.nasa.gov), click on “Datasets & Images,” and select “GISS Surface Air Temperature Analysis.” The graphs are updated every year. Note that the temperature is compared to a baseline of the average temperature in 1951–1980. What has happened with the temperature in the last few years? If the annual mean decreased, does that change the trend? What does the 5-year running mean show? How much warmer is it on average now than in 1880?
6c.
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Go to NOAA’s “Trend in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” Web page on carbon dioxide levels at the observatory on Mauna Loa (http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html). What is the current level of CO2? How does this compare with the level from 1 year ago? Scroll down the page and click on “A description of how we make measurements at Mauna Loa.” Why is this a good site for measuring CO2? What exactly is measured? Are the numbers cross-checked with other measurements?
7.
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The Fifth Assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be released in 2013–14, with the Physical Science Basis report due in September 2013. Go to the IPCC website (http://ipcc.ch) to see if this report is available. What is the summary of the report? How do the different forcing factors contribute to global warming or global cooling on Earth?
8.
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[Advanced] Go to the website for Educational Global Climate Modeling, or EdGCM (http://edgcm.columbia.edu). This is a version of the NASA GISS modeling software that will enable students to run a functional three-dimensional global climate model on their laptop computers. Download the trial version and install it on your computer. What can you study with this program? What factors that contribute to global warming or to global cooling on Earth can you adjust in the model? Your instructor may give you an assignment using this program and the Earth Exploration Toolbook (http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/envisioningclimatechange/index.html).

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