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Resource facts

  • Independent of the number of students
  • 15 to 30 min
  • English, German

Resource Description

Instruction file

The Effect of CO2 on the Atmosphere(Resource ID: 204)

This building block demonstrates the effect of CO2 on the absorption of heat radiation and the subsequent increase in the atmosphere’s temperature.

CO2 is a gas that has a significant effect on the climate. The relationship between CO2  and temperature increases is often called into question. The goal of the experiment described below is to illustrate the effect of a heightened CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

To do so, air will be warmed in two open-topped containers, upon which two strong lights are pointed. The changes in the air temperature are documented over the course of the experiment. The air in one container is enriched with CO2 and differs from the other container only in its considerably higher concentration of CO2 in the container’s air.

After just a few minutes the container, in which the air has a higher CO2 content, shows a significantly higher temperature. As the basic conditions for the both atmospheres are the same and differ only in the CO2 content, the temperature difference must be an effect of the heightened radiation absorption of CO2.

Increasing the CO2 content is accomplished by simply dissolving several effervescent tablets containing high levels of CO2.

Aha effect

CO2 should be understood as an absorbtive gas that has a significant effect on climate. 

Learning Outcomes
The building block seeks to convey an understanding of the connection between CO2 and air temperature.
Relevance for Sustainability
This building block is related to sustainability in that it communicates how the extensively discussed greenhouse gas CO2 impacts air temperature in the atmosphere. The building block’s experiment is demonstrative and easily understandable.
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Teaching Methods
Preparation Efforts
Low
Access
Free
Sources and Links

Seinfeld, J. H. and S. N. Pandis, 1997: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change. Wiley-Interscience.

Ahrens, C. D., 2007: Essentials of Meteorology. An Invitation to the Atmosphere. 5th ed. Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Video: https://vimeo.com/75471235

Funded by
Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenfächer" (2011/12)

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Author

Erich Mursch-Radlgruber

Contact

Erich Mursch-Radlgruber
erich.mursch-radlgruber(at)boku.ac.at
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna
Institution:
Institute of Meteorology (BOKU Vienna)
Date:

License

Creative Commons
BY-NC-ND

Teaching Tools & Methods

  • Discussion / debate
  • Reflection
  • formteaching_experiment