EarthLabs > Climate and the Cryosphere > Lab Overviews

Climate and the Cryosphere: Lab Overviews

1. Getting to Know the Cryosphere
In Part A of this lab, you will learn about the different components that make up the cryosphere and where they can be found on Earth. In Part B, you will be introduced to some of the ways climate and the cryosphere influence one another, as well as how and why scientists study changes in our planet's snow and ice. In Part C, you will learn about some of the ways that humans, plants, and animals are connected to and affected by the cryosphere.

2. Earth's Frozen Oceans
In Part A of this activity, you will learn about how sea ice forms and influences ocean currents around the globe. In Part B, you will look at how sea ice thickness changes over time. Finally, in Part C, you will use NSIDC sea ice index data to explore how sea ice extent changes over the course of one year and then five years.

3. Land Ice
In the first part of this lab, you will learn about how glaciers form and the different processes that contribute to glacial mass balance by using an online interactive to explore how glaciers provide scientists with evidence for climate change. In Part B, you will learn about how & why glaciers move. In Part C, you will make a model of a glacier out of a putty-like substance called gak and conduct a hands-on experiment to explore glacial movement.

4. Climate History & the Cryosphere
In the first part of this lab, you will learn about land ice and the processes and timescales involved in glaciation. In Part B, you will learn about how scientists use ice cores to study climate history. In Part C, you will use an online interactive to explore how Earth's temperature, glacial ice, coastlines, and sea level have changed over the last 450,000 years.

5. Evidence of Recent Change
In this lab, you will explore evidence of recent change in the cryosphere. In Part A, you will use an online interactive to visually explore how six Alaskan glaciers have changed over the last hundred years. You will also use image processing software to measure how much area a glacier in the Himalayas has lost over time due to rising temperatures. In Part B, you will study recent trends in Arctic sea ice extent. In Part C, you will explore the ice-albedo feedback effect and think about causal connections between climate and the cryosphere.

6. Future of the Cryosphere
In this culminating activity, you will 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.

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