Initial Publication Date: November 22, 2010

Lab 4: Climate History & the Cryosphere

The lab activity described here was developed by Erin Bardar of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

In the first part of this lab, students will learn about land ice and the processes and timescales involved in glaciation. In Part B, they will learn about how scientists use ice cores to study climate history. In Part C, students 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.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • describe the timescales associated with glacial and interglacial periods
  • describe how we know what we know about historical climate and atmospheric conditions and events
  • explain what ice cores are and how they record atmospheric and climate data
  • describe impacts of climate change on land ice and the oceans

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Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

Printable Materials

Download and print files needed for each lab activity, including images, data tables, and Stop and Think questions.

Teaching Notes and Tips

General recommendations for classroom implementation as well as guidelines and facilitation tips for leading class discussions.

Student Notebooks

Suggestions for how to use Student Notebooks for Lab 4.


There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

Science Standards

Lab 4 supports the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

Additional Resources

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