Going Further


Graph and Analyze Additional Data

This zipped file contains all five of the borehole temperature datasets, in both the full and subset forms. Teachers who would like to challenge their students, or see the complete dataset, can download and use these files.
Excel Files (used in Part 4)
Click on the following link to download the files from the NSIDC ftp site.
Excel Files of Complete data for all 5 locations opens in a new window. Once in the download window, click on the files that you would like to download.

Construct a New Map

After completing the activity, have students brainstorm other correlations they could study in this region. Ask them what question(s) they would like to answer, and how they would state the hypothesis for the additional study. Additional Arctic data layers, available as KML files, can be found at the University of the Artic's UArtic Atlas

For example, students might be interested in other elements of Arctic life such as:

  • Where do people live in the Arctic?
  • What is the average temperature in the Arctic?
  • Where are the caribou migration routes?

Add Photos to your Map

In addition to waypoints, users of Google Earth can add photos to the descriptions given to waypoints. This additional information is valuable for many reasons.

Explore Thawing Permafrost in Alaska

Alaska is another part of the Arctic where thawing permafrostas well as other effects of warming surface temperaturesis changing lives. The Alaskan island village of Shishmaref, a tiny Inupiat settlement, has eroded sufficiently that the entire community will soon need to relocate to the mainland to escape disappearing into the Chukchi Sea.

Users can learn more about Shishmaref, thawing permafrost, and melting polar ice in Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Climate of Man – I", first published in The New Yorker magazine in the Spring of 2005. Shishmaref history, customs, village life and vulnerability to climate change have been well documented in the film The Last Days of Shishmaref, Jan Louter, director, Miroir Film, Netherlands.

Other Tools

Instead of using Google Earth, a GIS program could be used for this project. Several options are available for free trial.

Arc Explorer for Education (AEJEE) is a free program offered by ESRI.

ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (AEJEE) is a downloadable, lightweight GIS tool for exploring geographic data. AEJEE can save and open projects, so work can be shared between users, or between school and home. AEJEE can classify and symbolize shapefiles, integrate a wide array of image data, project on-the-fly shapefiles stored in decimal degree, and use data distributed over the Internet.

Additional Base Maps and Data

Snow and Ice datasets are available in GIS format from the NSIDC. http://nsidc.org/data/gis/

The Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that are included in this chapter contain the latitude and longitude data for each of the borehole locations. This geospatial data can be used to build a shapefile of borehole locations.

Related Case Studies

Other EET chapters that utilize Google Earth as a tool and satellite imagery as a data source include the following:

Exploring Air Quality in Aura NO2 DataExplore relationships between air quality and population density. Download NO2 data and analyze it to develop a conceptual understanding of how population and topography can influence the air quality of a region.

Exploring Monsoon Precipitation and Streamflow in a Semi-arid WatershedLearn about a small, semi-arid watershed in the mountains near Tucson, Arizona.

Within the EET there are several related case studies that explore the causes and / or impacts of climate change. These lessons could be used to develop a complete unit on the topic.

Is Greenland Melting?Explore working conditions on the Greenland Ice Sheet, measure melt area extents and rate of glacial movement with My World GIS. 

Understanding Carbon Storage in ForestsCompare field-collected data with results produced by a forest biomass model to understand the process and challenges scientists face when doing terrestrial carbon cycle research.

Exploring Regional Differences in Climate ChangeProduce and analyze graphs to compare climate predictions among U.S. States through the year 2100. 

Whither Arctic Sea Ice?Animate thirty years of sea ice images, measure the ice extent each year, and then graph and analyze the results.

Exploring NCAR Climate Change Data Using GISUse ArcGIS to visualize and analyze NCAR climate change scenario. 

Using NASA NEO and ImageJ to Explore the Role of Snow Cover in Shaping ClimateUse ImageJ to explore and animate satellite images of reflected short wave radiation, snow cover, and land surface temperature downloaded from the NASA Earth Observation (NEO) website. Then use NEO's Image Composite Editor (ICE) to observe, graph, and analyze the relationship between these three variables. 

Envisioning Climate Change Using a Global Climate ModelRun climate modeling software to visualize how temperature and snow coverage might change over the next 100 years.


Other Resources

Two excellent lesson plans that use Google Earth from the SERC Library can be used along with this lesson.Teaching With Google Earth

Northwest PassageUse Google Earth and information from several websites to investigate some of the consequences of climate change in polar regions, including the shrinking of the ice cap at the North Pole, disintegration of ice shelves, opening of shipping routes, effects on polar bears, and possible secondary effects on climate in other regions due to changes in ocean currents.


Google Earth Tours of Glacier ChangeA detailed Google Earth tour of glacier change over the last 50 years is given in class as an introduction. Students are then asked to select from a group of glaciers and create their own Google Earth tour exploring key characteristics and evident changes in that glacier.

The Google Earth community resources page for Climate Change has links to other KML files that can be added to this project.

Additional Data

Russian Historical Soil Temperature Dataset 

This data set is a collection of monthly and annual average soil temperatures measured at Russian meteorological stations. Data were recovered from many sources and compiled by staff at the University of Colorado, USA, and the Russian Academy of Sciences in Puschino, Russia.

IPA-IPY Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP) Snapshot Borehole Inventory, Version 1.0 

This inventory of datasets was published in August 2010. On this page there are links to other sites that contain data that could be downloaded and graphed.

Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost

The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) was initiated by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) to organize and manage a global network of permafrost observatories for detecting, monitoring, and predicting climate change. On this page there are links to other sites that contain data that could be downloaded and graphed.

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