This series of activities introduce students to polar oceanography, polar climate and how events that occur in oceans thousands of kilometers away affect them and the mid-latitudes using maps, images, lab experiments and online data tools. Students explore how conditions are changing in the Polar Regions and the possible impacts upon life in the United States and other mid-latitude nations.
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.
The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.
Hands-on laboratory activity that allows students to investigate the effects of distance and angle on the input of solar radiation at Earth's surface, the role played by albedo, the heat capacity of land and water, and how these cause the seasons. Students predict radiative heating based on simple geometry and experiment to test their hypotheses.
In this classroom activity, students access sea surface temperature and wind speed data from a NASA site, plot and compare data, draw conclusions about surface current and sea surface temperature, and link their gained understanding to concerns about global climate change.
This video highlights a variety of current climate change research initiatives from scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It describes the changing dynamics of Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers and the impacts of reduced Arctic sea ice on people, animals, and global albedo and sea levels, while providing a glimpse of the excitement of this field research through interviews and video clips of scientists in the field.
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.
This video from NASA features scientists who describe the role of salt in the oceans and global oceanic circulation, especially the effect of salinity on the density of water and its global circulation, with reference to global climate change.
In this activity for undergraduate students, learners build a highly simplified computer model of thermohaline circulation (THC) in the North Atlantic Ocean and conduct a set of simulation experiments to understand the complex dynamics inherent in this simple model.
In this video, students see how data from the ice core record is used to help scientists predict the future of our climate. Video features ice cores extracted from the WAIS Divide, a research station on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.