Investigation: When will there no longer be glaciers in Glacier National Park?
In this activity, students use historical data on the extent of the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park to estimate when the glacier will melt completely.
- Build skills and gain experience in analyzing and interpreting real geologic data
Context for Use
This activity is meant to follow a discussion of glaciers and their effects on alpine landscapes.
Teaching Notes and Tips
For more recent data on the Grinnell Glacier, students can use Google Earth imagery, USGS repeat photographs, or images from the Glaciers of the American West. Integrating data from various sources and deriving quantitative data from imagery can add to the skills students will develop in this exercise.
This exercise also requires glacier imagery, and several sources of imagery are provided in the references section.
The activity report can be completed individually or as a group and should be a summary of the Investigation Question, the process for answering it and what that answer was. The report should be concise (less than 2 pages, typed) and should answer each of the major questions asked in the activity sheet.
References and Resources
- Johnson, Arthur (1980). Grinnell and Sperry glaciers, Glacier National Park, Montana; a record of vanishing ice. USGS Professional Paper 1180
- Glacier Retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana
By Carl H. Key, Daniel B. Fagre, and Richard K. Menicke, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386–J–2. Contains a similar figure, but it's a map instead of an aerial photo
- Grinnell Glacier from Mt. Gould 1938 - 2009 - repeat photography from the USGS. Several other images sets of the Grinnell Glacier are available from the navigation menu.
- Grinnell Glacier imagery photos from 1901 through 2009, from Glaciers of the American West
- Gigapan image of the Grinnell Glacier from North Moraine, photographed August 2010
- See the related activity, Glacier (?) National Park
Quantiative Skills AddressedWriting, Problem solving, Models
Geoscience Topics CoveredClimate, cryosphere
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Controlled Vocabulary Terms
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level
Quantitative Skills: Problem Solving, Models and Modeling
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Earth System Topics: Surface Processes, Climate, Atmosphere, Hydrology