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.
The activity follows a progression that examines the CO2 content of various gases, explores the changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 from 1958 to 2000 from the Mauna Loa Keeling curve, and the relationship between CO2 and temperature over the past 160,000 years. This provides a foundation for examining individuals' input of CO2 to the atmosphere and how to reduce it.
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.
This beautifully filmed and produced video describes the changes that global warming is already bringing to Northern Canada and Greenland. Local people describe changes to ecosystems, impacts on culture and life styles, and the challenges of melting permafrost. Ship captains describe changes in navigational channels and fjords. Scientists describe changes in albedo and permafrost, as well as increased pollution transported from outside the Arctic (the Grasshopper effect).
In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.
This video focuses on the science of climate change and its impacts on wildlife on land and in the sea, and their habitats in the U.S. There are short sections on walruses, coral reefs, migrating birds and their breeding grounds, freshwater fish, bees, etc. Video concludes with some discussion about solutions, including reduce/recyle/reuse, energy conservation, backyard habitats, citizen scientists.
This video describes how the normal thousands-of-years-long balance of new ice creation and melting due to ocean currents has been disrupted recently by warmer ocean currents. As a result, glacier tongues that overhang the interface between ice and ocean are breaking off and falling into the ocean.