Lab 4:Carbon-Changes in the LandThe lab activity described here was developed by Candace Dunlap of TERC for the EarthLabs project.
Use the button at the right to navigate to the student activity pages for this lab. To open the student pages in a new tab or window, right-click (control-click on a Mac) the "Open the Student Activity" button and choose "Open Link in New Window" or "Open Link in New Tab."
Investigation Summary and Learning Objectives
Students listen to a researcher describe the changes that warming is bringing to the Boreal Forest, which extends across the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia south of the tundra. The warmer, drier weather leads to more intensive fires in this region of conifers. As the faster-growing deciduous trees replace the conifers, the most significant changes may be ones that are not even visible.
After completing this investigation, students will be able to:
- Describe how forests can function as a carbon sink or as a carbon source and how they might change from one to another.
- Explain how wildfires, deforestation and drought might change a forest from a carbon sink to a carbon source.
- Identify positive or negative feedbacks in a complex forest carbon cycle.
For more information about the TOPIC, read the section titled Background Information under Additional Resources below
In Part A: Students investigate deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and its affect on the Amazon to remain a strong carbon sink. Next, they learn how deforestation, combustion and
decomposition caused by slash and burn farming methods all work together to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. A solution to mitigate problems caused by slash and burn farming are explored in a mini case study on farming methods using method using Inga Trees.
In Part B: Students explore the effects of wildfires on the complex carbon cycle of the Northern Boreal Forests and its relationship to climate change.
Printable MaterialsTo download one of the PDF or Word files below, right-click (control-click on a Mac) the link and choose "Save File As" or "Save Link As."
- Doc _______
- Stop and Think Questions - Lab 4 stop and think lab 4 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Mar5 13)
- 'Suggested Answers' to Stop and Think Questions stop and think lab 4 answers (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 25kB Mar5 13)
Teaching Notes and Tips
In Part A:
In Part B:
You only want to view the first section of the AMNH movie "The Ecology of Climate Change" Reading the accompanying essay at the AMNH site is critical to being able to do this assessment. For AP Environmental students, you might prefer to have your students read several articles on the same subject from Nasa's Earth Observatory. They are linked below.
Migration of the Boreal Forest
A Forest on the Threshold
The Boreas-Atmospheric project
You can assess student understanding of topics addressed in this Investigation by grading their responses to the Stop and Think questions.
ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENTS TO BE DEVELOPED FOR THE PILOT VERSION
Lab 4-B has a formative assessment instead of a Stop and Think Question. A rubric will be devised and available at a future date.
State and National Science Teaching Standards
TO BE PROVIDED LATER
Developer will correlate activity to standards listed at this site:National Science Education Standards (SRI)
Background InformationOther resources include: The Amazon
Deforestation in the Amazon
Seeing Leaves in a New Light
There are many other articles on the NASA Earth Observatory website that relate to carbon and forests.