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Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.
This view of Earth's horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean was taken on 21 July 2003 by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.
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Courtesy of NASA Human Space Flight Collection

Atmospheric Science Literacy Framework

Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Atmospheric Science

The atmosphere is a dynamically circulating mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth. It becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. Close to Earth's surface, oxygen is essential to life, because it allows us to breathe. High in the atmosphere, some of the oxygen has changed over time to ozone. The ozone layer filters out the Sun's harmful rays. Recently, there have been many studies on how humans have caused a hole in the ozone layer. Humans are also affecting Earth's atmosphere through the greenhouse effect. Increasing concentrations of gases like carbon dioxide are trapping heat as it is radiated from the Earth. This is highly likely to be the cause of global warming.

Atmospheric science literacy is a part of Earth system science literacy. It is an understanding of the "big ideas" of scientific knowledge relevant to the atmosphere. The atmospheric-literate person is able to communicate about the Earth's atmosphere in a meaningful way, and be equipped to make informed and responsible decisions about human activities that impact the Earth's atmosphere.

This framework for Atmospheric Science Literacy provides Essential Principles and subordinate and more specific Fundamental Concepts that individuals and communities should understand about the atmosphere. For more information on this effort, please visit the Atmospheric Science Literacy Framework web site. In addition, the Atmospheric Science Literacy Frameworks have been aligned with the National Science Education Standards.

Last modified July 29, 2009 by Becca Hatheway.

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The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on Earth System science, including articles on student inquiry, differentiated instruction, geomorphic concepts, the rock cycle, and much more!

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