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Air traffic (and therefore airplane contrails) was halted nationwide for nearly three days following September 11, 2001. Students will investigate whether that stoppage resulted in any changes to cloud cover, temperature and/or radiation. Using the MY NASA DATA Live Access Server (LAS), students gather satellite data on each of the three atmospheric parameters around that time frame. Working in teams, they read, compare and discuss two accompanying articles, then use the data from the LAS to create a PowerPoint presentation contending whether it was the lack of contrails or simply natural weather patterns at the time that was responsible for the increase in the range of temperatures. This lesson uses student- and citizen science-friendly microsets of authentic NASA Earth system science data from the MY NASA DATA project. It includes detailed procedures, analysis questions, teacher notes, related links, background information, lesson extensions, and a list of related AP Environmental Science topics.
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