Lab 5: Evidence of Recent Change

The lab activity described here was developed by Erin Bardar, Candace Dunlap, and Sarah Hill of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

In this lab, students will explore evidence of recent change in the cryosphere. In Part A, they will use an online interactive to visually explore how six Alaskan glaciers have changed over the last hundred years. They 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, students will study recent trends in Arctic sea ice extent. In Part C, they will explore the ice-albedo feedback effect and think about causal connections between climate and the cryosphere.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • describe evidence of recent changes observed in glacial ice
  • measure changes in glacial area and extent using ImageJ
  • describe recent trends in sea ice extent and volume
  • explain how the ice-albedo feedback loop works
  • explain the difference between reinforcing and balancing feedback mechanisms

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Overview and Teaching Materials

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Printable Materials

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Teaching Notes and Tips

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Student Notebooks

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Science Standards

Lab 5 supports the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

Additional Resources

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