Sea Ice Extension for the Earth as a System Learning Activity
Average temperature figure from the GLOBE dataset

Gary Randolph - the GLOBE Program
and Walt Meier - National Snow and Ice Data Center
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The purpose is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster; to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center; Sea Ice to develop an understanding of the interactions of Earth systems.

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Secondary or undergraduate level

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

General understanding of earth system processes, heat flux, etc.

How the activity is situated in the course

This could be a stand-alone exercise or part of an earth system curriculum


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Better understand polar science and polar change issues. Learn about how energy transfer occurs at earth's surface, how impacts temperature and heat and how surface changes (i.e., loss of sea ice) impacts the energy balance.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will need to synthesize concepts such as energy, temperature, albedo; how changes to the earth's surface affect the energy balance. At the more advanced level of the activity, students can retrieve sea ice, ocean and air temperatures, analyze the data, and

Other skills goals for this activity

Students can be asked to write a report on their findings or give oral presentations. Working in groups would be a valuable way to collaborate on the activity.

Description of the activity/assignment

Maps displaying global environmental data (specifically Solar Energy and Average Temperature) through the course of a year are compared in order to understand how the Earth works as a system focusing on Polar Regions. Students then explore data from schools located in Alaska and Antarctica to understand processes that drive the temperature patterns; students then visit the National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site to learn more about the Cryosphere (focusing on Albedo and Sea Ice); finally students visit NOAA's web site looking at data of Sea Ice data anomalies. (Link to the relevant pages in these web sites are listed below.)

Determining whether students have met the goals

Interactive classroom discussion, written reports, oral presentations, or quizzes can be used to assess student understanding.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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