This lesson sequence guides students to learn about the geography and the unique characteristics of the Arctic, including vegetation, and people who live there. Students use Google Earth to explore the Arctic and learn about meteorological observations in the Arctic, including collecting their own data in hands-on experiments. This is the first part of a three-part curriculum about Arctic climate.
In this video segment, a team of scientists seeks evidence to support their hypothesis that atmospheric warming may cause water to form beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet. This water causes ice streams to flow much more quickly than the rest of the ice sheet, which has important implications for sea level rise.
This video contains a visualization and explanation of the Arctic sea ice and how it has changed over the 25 years. In September 2012, the National Snow and Ice Data Center recorded the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice. The video discusses the climate importance of ice thickness and reflective properties.
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.
A video from the Extreme Ice Survey in which Dr. Tad Pfeffer and photographer Jim Balog discuss the dynamics of the Columbia glacier's retreat in recent years through this time-lapse movie. Key point: glacier size is being reduced not just by glacial melting but due to a shift in glacial dynamics brought on by climate change.
Students gain experience using a spreadsheet and working with others to decide how to conduct their model 'experiments' with the NASA GEEBITT (Global Equilibrium Energy Balance Interactive Tinker Toy). This activity helps students become more familiar with the physical processes that made Earth's early climate so different from that of today. Students also acquire first-hand experience with a limitation in modeling, specifically, parameterization of critical processes.