EarthLabs > Climate and the Cryosphere > Lab 6: Future of the Cryosphere

Future of the Cryosphere


The average surface temperature of the Earth rose by 0.6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century (IPCC, 2001). As small as this value may sound, it is a legitimate cause for concern. For comparison, today's average global temperature is only 4-7 degrees Celsius warmer than it was during the last ice age (Riebeek, 2010) . Of course, Earth's climate goes through natural cycles. However, scientific data and models show that human activitiesprimarily fossil fuel burningwhich increase atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and average global temperatures, are pushing climate toward a tipping point (the stage in a process when a significant change takes place).

In this culminating activity, let's contemplate what the future might hold for climate and the cryosphere. In the first part of the lab, you will learn about what climate models predict Earth's climate will be like in the future. In Part B, you will consider potential changes in sea level that might be brought about by warming temperatures and melting ice.

After completing this Lab, you should be able to:

Keeping track of What You Learn

In these pages, you'll find three kinds of questions. Your teacher will let you know which questions you should answer and turn in.

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