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).
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.
This NBC Learn video features climate scientists doing their research on Mt. Kilimanjaro to study the climate of the past. The scientists put the recently observed changes on the glacier into perspective by comparing past climate fluctuations, stressing that the current observed rate of change is unprecedented.
Note: you will need to scroll down the Changing Planet video page to get to this video.
This video describes how field research -- in this case, making water measurements in rugged mountain locations -- helps us to understand the complex relationships among changing climate, populations, and water usage.
This video discusses how the populous areas west of the Andes are largely desert and rely on glacial meltwater as an important source of fresh water. Because the Peruvian glaciers high in the Andes are in rapid retreat, scientists are monitoring the steadily shrinking glaciers and the impact of their reduction on local populations.
This activity in a case study format explores ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet by way of outlet glaciers that flow into the ocean. Students do basic calculations and learn about data trends, rates of change, uncertainty, and predictions.
This video describes why tropical ice cores are important and provide different information than polar ice cores, why getting them now is important (they are disappearing), and how scientists get them. The work of glaciologist Lonnie Thompson is featured, with a focus on his work collecting cores of ice from high mountain glaciers that contain significant data about past climate change.
A collection of repeat photography of glaciers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The photos are taken years apart at or near the same location, and at the same time of year. These images illustrate how dramatically glacier positions can change even over a relatively short period in geological time: 60 to 100 years. Background essay and discussion questions are included.