This teaching activity is an introduction to how ice cores from the cryosphere are used as indicators and record-keepers of climate change as well as how climate change will affect the cryosphere. Students learn through a guided web exercise how scientists analyze ice cores to learn about past climate conditions, how melting sea and land ice will contribute to sea level rise, and what areas of the world would be at risk if Antarctic and/or Greenland ice sheets were to melt away.

This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter is a detailed computer-based exploration in which students learn how various climatic conditions impact the formations of sediment layers on the ocean floor. They analyze sediment core data from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica for evidence of climate changes over time. In addition, they interact with various tools and animations throughout the activity, in particular the Paleontological Stratigraphic Interval Construction and Analysis Tool (PSICAT) that is used to construct a climate change model of a sediment core from core images.

In this video from the Polaris Project Website, American and Siberian university students participating in the project describe their research on permafrost.

This animated visualization represents a time history of atmospheric carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm) from 1979 to 2011, and then back in time to 800,000 years before the present.

This audio slideshow/video describes the Greenland ice sheet and the difficulties in getting scientific measurements at the interface between the ice and the ocean. It features the work of a researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher. She gives a personal account of her work on the recent increase in melting of glaciers, the challenges of working in Greenland, and the reasons why so many climate scientists are looking there for answers to questions about climate change.

Set of annotated graphs indicating sea level change observed and projected (projections from IPCC 2001).

In this activity, students download historic temperature datasets and then graph and compare with different locations. As an extension, students can download and examine data sets for other sites to compare the variability of changes at different distinct locations, and it is at this stage where learning can be individualized and very meaningful.

A detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years is given in class as an introduction. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and evident changes in that glacier.

This is a multi-faceted activity that offers students a variety of opportunities to learn about permafrost through an important sink and source of greenhouse gas (methane), about which most students living in lower latitudes know little.

In this video, a PhD Student from the University of Maine explains how ice cores are used to study global climate change.

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