Part 2—Explore Science on the Ice

Step 1 Launch My World GIS, Open the Project File, and Explore the Map

  1. Launch My World GIS by double-clicking its icon on your desktop (Mac or PC) or by clicking the icon in the dock (Mac) or the Start menu (PC).
  2. From the Welcome screen, click the link titled "Get Started" at the bottom of the screen.
  3. A new My World GIS project window opens in Construct mode. A Data Library, Layer List, and a blank Map will be visible.
  4. If you stored Climate_Change_Greenland.m3vz in the Projects folder, access it from the Data Library. Use the drop-down Data Library menu to select All Projects, then click and drag the Climate_Change_Greenland.m3vz file into the Layer List.
  5. If your project file is stored someplace besides the Projects folder, double-click its icon to load the project file into My World GIS.
  6. The project loads with Greenland centered in the map window.

  7. Explore the data of the different layers of the map by clicking the check boxes in the Layer List, turning them on and off as needed.
  8. Note: Visible vs. Active Layers: Clicking anywhere else on a layer will activate the layer, calling attention to it. If you activate a layer, its background will turn white.
  9. Discover how the layers build the map by dragging layers up and down in the layer list. When you are done investigating the order, arrange the layers so that points are on top of lines, followed by areas, with images at the bottom.
  10. Make sure the Greenland Ice Sheet layer is turned on. To get a sense of the size and shape of the Greenland Ice Sheet, choose the Pointer tool and click on several locations across Greenland, noting the thickness of the ice indicated by the arrow in the Legend below the map.

Step 2 Explore the Greenland AWS layer to learn about Weather Stations and Scientists' Working Conditions

  1. The Greenland Automated Weather Stations (AWS) layer shows the locations of Automated Weather Stations installed on the surface of Greenland's Ice Sheet.
    Koni Steffen communicates with the base station on the radio while Russell Huff works on the Weather Station. Thanks to Russell Huff and Jason Box for sharing their photos.


    The picture on the left is from SM2, one of the weather stations that scientists visit in order to monitor conditions on the ice sheet. The view looking away from this station is empty and white.
  2. Consider the following questions while looking at the image above:
    • What do you observe about the weather station?
    • What kind of working conditions do these scientists have to endure to do their work?
    The working conditions are cold and windy. The scientists are wearing heavy clothes.
  3. Turn the legend for the Greenland AWS layer on and off by clicking the Legend symbol for that layer. With the legend on, use the pointer tool to select different stations in the list and highlight them on the map. Alternatively you can select them on the map to highlight them in the list.
  4. Use the Pointer tool and your choice of highlighting modes to find each of these stations:
    • Swiss camp
    • Summit
    • CP2
    Note: Selecting different stations in the legend list selects them in the layer. When you are done viewing the stations, you can use the Delete Selection button to remove these selections from the layer information.
  5. Next, visit the Greenland Climate Network web page to learn more about the weather stations.
    • On the Greenland Climate Network web page, scroll down and read the paragraph about Automated Weather Stations (AWS) to learn more about what they measure and how they work.
    • Next, click the picture of the AWS on this page to see labels for the different parts of the instrument. Click your browser's back button to return to the Greenland Climate Network main page.
    • Last, click the Station Positions link in the upper-right corner of the web page. This link contains the rows and columns of data that were used to create the Greenland AWS layer with My World GIS. When you are done exploring, close the web browser window.
      1. Click the circled link to open a page with the table of AWS positions.


      2. Table of AWS positions.



      To make a layer from a data table that shows positions in latitude and longitude, select and copy the rows and columns of data. Open a new spreadsheet document (in Excel, for instance) and paste the data into it. Once the data is inserted, use Data > Text to Columns to align the data in columns. Save the file as a .CSV (Comma Separated Value, also known as Comma delimited). To bring the data into My World and display it as a map, choose File > Import Layer from File... and navigate to where you stored the .csv file. Details for this operation are available in the Online Help Center under the Help menu in My World.
  6. On your My World map, access links to view pictures of scientists at work on the ice sheet.
    • Select the Link tool to show where images are linked to the map.
    • Using the Link tool, click on the base of each flag to access the pictures.
    • Zoom in on the map as necessary so you can access all the separate flags.
    Make sure you have the link tool active and click on the base of each flag pole. Once you see the text links, choose one to open the graphic or movie. Be patient: it sometimes takes a little practice to open links.

Step 3 Sort the Weather Stations by Elevation

The elevation of a location is its height above some standard such as sea level. Locations with higher elevations generally have lower temperatures.

  1. Make sure all selections have been cleared from the Greenland AWS layer. Alternatively, choose Highlight Mode "All (highlighting off)". Next, activate the Greenland AWS layer in the Layer List, and click the Table of Layer button, located just above the Layer List, to open the layer's data table.
  2. In the table of the layer, sort the data according to any field by clicking its header. Successive clicks will sort the data in ascending order, descending order, then back to unsorted.
  3. Table of AWS positions. Click on the image for a larger view.
    table of layer
  4. Sort the data, and then consider the following questions while looking at the data table:
    • What is the name of the station with the highest elevation? Which station has the lowest elevation?
    • In the U.S., elevations are commonly reported in feet above sea level. Use the estimate of 3 feet per meter to convert the elevation of the highest station into feet. Use an atlas or other resource to compare this value to the elevation of mountains in your state or region.
    • How many stations are at elevations above 2000 meters?
    • From the table, record the elevations of the three stations you located earlier: Swiss Camp, Summit, and CP2.
    • Examine the range of elevations as well as the spatial distribution of the stations on the map. What do you think scientists hope to learn by placing the weather stations in this pattern?
    • The highest station is Summit at 3254 meters and the lowest station is JAR3 at 323 meters. There are 11 stations above 2000 meters. Some elevations include: Swiss Camp at 1149m, CP2 at 1990m, and JAR 1 at 962m. The spatial distribution of the stations allows for a variety of monitoring conditions.
  5. Turn off all layers except Continents before moving on to Part 3.

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