Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change

Why Understanding and responding to global climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century. We receive many mixed messages about global climate change, and we often don't have information and tools we can trust to see and understand the complex connections between human activity and our changing climate. provides a set of peer-reviewed, interactive, web-based materials to help learners visualize and understand the underlying science of climate change.

Why now? is a legacy contribution to the International Year of Chemistry 2011. The UN IYC resolution stresses that "education in and about chemistry is critical in addressing challenges such as global climate change, in providing sustainable sources of clean water, food and energy and in maintaining a wholesome environment for the well being of all people..." Recognizing that the chemistry profession and chemistry educators play a crucial role in creating understanding about global climate change and working toward solutions, the materials include a special emphasis on the role fundamental chemistry plays in processes affecting earth's radiation balance.

Who are we? This project results from a three-year collaboration between the faculty and student research team at the King's Centre for Visualization in Science (The King's University College, Edmonton, Canada) and chemists and educators from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC - UK), UNESCO, the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry's Committee on Chemistry Education (IUPAC CCE), the American Chemical Society (ACS - USA), and the Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC).

IUPAC Project Team Members

IUPAC Project # 2008-043-1-050

King's Centre for Visualization in Science Researchers

Peter Mahaffy (Project Chair, IUPAC CCE)

Mei-Hung Chiu (IUPAC CCE)

Alison Eldridge (RSC)

Temechegn Engida (FASC)

Julia Hasler (UNESCO)

Mary Kirchhoff (ACS)

Brian Martin (KCVS)

Colin Osborne (RSC)

Natalia Tarasova (IUPAC CCE)

Lorna Thomson (RSC)

Brian Martin (co-director)

Peter Mahaffy (co-director)

Benjamin Dodds

David Dykstra

Darren Eymundson

Katrina Genuis

James Gilker

Naomi Mahaffy

Amanda Thompson

Kristen Tjostheim

Amanda Vandehoek

Matthew Price

Denyse Dawe

Theo Keeler

Anna Schwalfenberg

Darrell Vandenbrink

The Royal Society of Chemistry acknowledges the contribution of Vicky Wong in the production of this resource.

Target Audiences: (a) 16-19 year old students, (b) teachers at the secondary and first year tertiary levels, and (c) chemistry professionals. The materials will also be accessible to the general public.

Peer Review: Materials have been extensively reviewed by peer experts in both science and pedagogy, tested with teachers, and will be globally disseminated through partner networks to provide an important contribution to meeting the goals of the International Year of Chemistry. The British Antarctic Survey contributed images and review of some of the material.

Support: Direct and in-kind financial support for the project was provided by: Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) through the CRYSTAL program, the King's University, IUPAC, UNESCO, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Chemical Society.

Use of Materials: All materials are copyright to The King's Centre for Visualization in Science and are free for personal, not-for-profit use. They may not, however, be redistributed, posted on web sites or used in public presentations without prior agreement with The King's Centre for Visualization in Science. Contact:

Image and Video Credits: Sources for images requiring permissions are as follows:

Index Page

Landscape photo: Miriam Mahaffy

Home Page

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8

Lesson 9

Glossary Terms