In this activity, students learn about sea ice extent in both polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic). They start out by forming a hypothesis on the variability of sea ice, testing the hypothesis by graphing real data from a recent 3-year period to learn about seasonal variations and over a 25-year period to learn about longer-term trends, and finish with a discussion of their results and predictions.
In this activity, students use Google Earth and information from several websites to investigate some of the consequences of climate change in polar regions, including the shrinking of the ice cap at the North Pole, disintegration of ice shelves, melting of Greenland, opening of shipping routes, effects on polar bears, and possible secondary effects on climate in other regions due to changes in ocean currents. Students learn to use satellite and aerial imagery, maps, graphs, and statistics to interpret trends accompanying changes in the Earth system.
This activity engages learners in examining data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. After calculating percentage change of the number of glaciers from 1850 (150) to 1968 (50) and 2009 (26), students move on to the main glacier-monitoring content of the module--area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park. Using a second-order polynomial (quadratic function) fitted to the data, they extrapolate to estimate when there will be no Grinnell Glacier remaining (illustrating the relevance of the question mark in the title of the module).
This web page from the National Snow and Ice Data Center contains two related visualizations. The first visualization gives an estimate of the percent contribution to sea level change since the 1990s from three contributors - small glaciers and ice caps, the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The second visualization shows the cumulative contribution to sea level from small glaciers and ice caps plotted with the annual global surface air temperature anomaly.
In this activity, students use Google Earth and team up with fictional students in Chersky, Russia to investigate possible causes of thawing permafrost in Siberia and other Arctic regions. Students explore the nature of permafrost and what the effects of thawing permafrost mean both locally and globally. Next, students use a spreadsheet to explore soil temperature data from permafrost boreholes and surface air temperature datasets from in and around the Chersky region for a 50-year time span.
This activity is a hands-on guided inquiry activity designed to highlight the role of an ice shelf on slowing the movement of continental ice sheets in Antarctica. Students build a model of Antarctica and both continental glaciers and ice shelves using paper models of the land and slime for glaciers and ice. Students use their model to explore the impact of recent and potential ice shelf melting and break-up.
This video is part two of a seven-part National Academies series, Climate Change: Lines of Evidence. The video outlines, with the use of recent research and historical data, how we know that the Earth is warming.
In this activity students use NASA satellite data to study changes in temperature and snow-ice coverage in the South Beaufort Sea, Alaska. They will then correlate the data with USGS ground tracking of polar bears and relate their findings to global change, sea ice changes, and polar bear migration and survival.
This series of visualizations show the annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2010. The decrease in Arctic sea ice over time is shown in an animation and a graph plotted simultaneously, but can be parsed so that the change in sea ice area can be shown without the graph.