This series of activities is designed to introduce students to the role of sediments and sedimentary rocks in the global carbon cycle. Students learn how stable carbon isotopes can be used to reconstruct ancient sedimentary environments. Students will make some simple calculations, formulate hypotheses, and think about the implications of their results. The activity includes an optional demonstration of the density separation of a sediment sample into a light, organic fraction and a heavier, mineral fraction.
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.
This video features University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Magnuson, who studies the ecology of freshwater systems. He explains the difference between weather and climate using data on ice cover from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Analysis of the data indicates a long-term trend that can be connected to climate change.
In this activity, students learn about the tools and methods paleoclimatologists use to reconstruct past climates. In constructing sediment cores themselves, students will achieve a very good understanding of the sedimentological interpretation of past climates that scientists can draw from cores.
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 short video features the Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network (ALISON project), a citizen science program in which 4th and 5th graders help scientists study the relationship between climate change and lake ice and snow conditions.
In this video, students learn how scientific surveys of wildlife are performed at a site in Yosemite, California. These surveys, in conjunction with studies from the early 1900s, provide evidence that animal populations in Yosemite have shifted over time in response to rising temperatures.
This short video describes how the compression of Antarctic snow into ice captures air from past atmospheres. It shows how ice cores are drilled from the Antarctic ice and prepared for shipment and subsequent analysis.
Students consider why the observed atmospheric CO2 increase rate is only ~60% of the CO2 loading rate due to fossil fuel combustion. They develop a box-model to simulate the atmospheric CO2 increase during the industrial era and compare it to the historic observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The model is then used to forecast future concentrations of atmospheric CO2 during the next century.