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Students explore how mathematical descriptions of the physical environment can be fine-tuned through testing using data. In this activity, student teams obtain satellite data measuring the Earth's albedo, and then input this data into a spreadsheet-based radiation balance model, GEEBITT. They validate their results against published the published albedo value of the Earth, and conduct similar comparisons Mercury, Venus and Mars. The resource includes an Excel spreadsheet tutorial, an investigation, student data sheets and a teacher's guide. Students apply their understanding to the real life problem of urban heat islands and deforestation. The activity links builds on student outcomes from activities A and B: "Finding a Mathematical Description of a Physical Relationship," and "Making a Simple Mathematical Model." This is Activity C in module 3, Using Mathematical Models to Investigate Planetary Habitability, of the resource, Earth Climate Course: What Determines a Planet's Climate? The course aims to help students to develop an understanding of our environment as a system of human and natural processes that result in changes that occur over various space and time scales.
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