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.
This video highlights a team of scientists who work on reconstructing the mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, the end of the Permian Period, and wiped out the majority of life on our planet, resetting the evolution of life. Clues suggest that deadly bacteria might have set off a chemical chain reaction that poisoned the Permian seas and atmosphere.
In this video segment, a team of scientists seeks evidence to support their hypothesis that atmospheric warming -- either now or in the past -- may explain why water has formed beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, causing ice streams that flow much more quickly than the rest of the ice sheet. This phenomenon has important implications for potential sea level rise.
This animation illustrates how the hardiness zones for plants have changed between 1990 and 2006 based on an extensive updating of U.S. Hardiness Zones using data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental United States.
This video documents the impact of the 2011 drought on the water supply of two Texas towns. It discusses how the higher temperatures have increased the evaporation from open reservoirs, resulting in a drop in their water levels. The use of water in fighting wildfires has also contributed to this drawdown. While some jurisdictions have been able to develop pipelines to other sources, others have had to resort to trucking water in.
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 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.