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).
In this activity, students learn how to read, analyze, and construct climographs. These climographs are a graphic way of displaying monthly average temperature and precipitation. Students also practice matching climographs to various locations and summarize global-scale climate patterns revealed by comparing climographs.
This activity uses geophysical and geochemical data to determine climate in Central America during the recent past and to explore the link between climate (wet periods and drought) and population growth/demise among the Maya. Students use ocean drilling data to interpret climate and to consider the influence of climate on the Mayan civilization.
Climate scientist Richard Alley narrates this video that examines studies conducted more than 50 years ago by the U.S. Air Force, which wanted to understand how the warming effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect missile warfare. The video then focuses on the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand, using the location to explain how glaciers form, and how they help scientists understand past atmospheric conditions and climate. Supplemental resources are available through the website.
In this Webquest activity, students assume roles of scientist, business leader, or policy maker. The students then collaborate as part of a climate action team and learn how society and the environment might be impacted by global warming. They explore the decision making process regarding issues of climate change, energy use, and available policy options. Student teams investigate how and why climate is changing and how humans may have contributed to these changes. Upon completion of their individual tasks, student teams present their findings and make recommendations that address the situation.
This video examines the thawing of permafrost due to changes in climate and shows examples of the impacts that warming temperatures have on permafrost in the Arctic, including the release of the greenhouse gas methane. Dramatic results are shown, including sink holes forming on the landscape and beneath buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, causing some communities to relocate.
In this video, adapted from KUAC-TV and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, viewers learn how one-celled organisms in permafrost may be contributing to greenhouse gas levels and global warming.
This video from a 2005 NOVA program features scientists who study how the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier in western Greenland is shrinking and moving faster due to increased melting over the past ten years. The video includes footage of scientists in the field explaining methods and animation of ice sheet dynamics leading to faster glacier movement.
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.
With this simulation from the NASA Climate website, learners explore different examples of how ice is melting due to climate change in four places where large quantities of ice are found. The photo comparisons, graphs, animations, and especially the time lapse video clips of glaciers receding are astonishing and dramatic.