This experiment shows students how the temperature of ocean water affects the solubility of carbon dioxide in the water.
The visual effect of warm and cold water temperature on the rate of CO2 solubility is a great way to demonstrate the role of CO2 on climate change.
Teachers should budget time for set up and clean up.
Students should understand how burning fossil fuels releases CO2 and how increased CO2 levels contribute to global warming.
Each group will need a 500 ml graduated cylinder, a funnel, a Petri dish cover, a transparent basin or an aquarium, a stand and clamp, ice cubes or cold water, a water heater or warm water, and effervescent tablets (e.g, Alka-Seltzer).
Teachers may want to address students' misconceptions about the experiment demonstrating the rate of CO2 dissolution.
Teachers can conduct the experiment as a demonstration or have students perform the experiment in small groups.
Teachers could record the demonstration and post it online for analysis in a remote learning or hybrid setting.
Two variations of the experiment are mentioned at the end of the PDF, one to test how salinity affects CO2 dissolution and one to test how using two effervescent tablets affects the experiment's results.
Carbon dioxide is not as soluble in warmer ocean water as it is in colder ocean water. Climate change is heating the oceans, causing them to release more carbon dioxide. This resource uses a simple experiment to demonstrate the varying solubility of water based on temperature. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS2: Earth's Systems
HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
PS1: Matter and its Interactions
MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.