Taking the pulse of the planet

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This resource from the European Space Agency climate change resource pack provides information gathered from the electromagnetic spectrum which is used to monitor and measure changes in the Earth’s climate system. Resources focus upon how satellite instruments orbiting the Earth detect data from the visible light, infrared light and microwave radiation regions of the spectrum. This can then be used to monitor changes in sea levels and ice sheets as well as the production of accurate mapping of the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes; effectively ‘taking the pulse’ of the planet.

The first comprehension activity acts as an introduction to the topic and reviews the different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students research how specific regions of the spectrum can be used to monitor different components of the Earth’s climate and changing composition of the atmosphere (for example the temperature or amounts of moisture in soil). The next activity requires Internet research and use of the Sentinelhub Playground site to create true and false-colour satellite images that are used to explore changes to the environment. Infrared light can be effectively ‘shown as colour’ in mapped images and areas of drought or flooding can be examined. This technique alongside data retrieved from the 'Climate from Space' web application allows students to produce a detailed report about recent natural disasters based upon their research findings.

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