Kirsten Menking

Earth Science and Geography, Science

Vassar College

Workshop Leader and Participant, Website Contributor

Website Content Contributions

Course Modules (4)

Unit 1: Introduction to Modeling Dynamic Systems part of Modeling Earth Systems
× This course teaches students how to use numerical modeling to understand the complex Earth system. Provenance: This photo of Earth was taken by NASA astronauts: ...

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Unit 2: Modeling Population part of Modeling Earth Systems
× Exponential growth of the human population has led to a variety of environmental problems, such as this Beijing traffic jam. Provenance: Image apparently free to be used: ...

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Unit 6: Hydrologic Balance and Climate Change part of Modeling Earth Systems
In this unit, students create a STELLA model of the Owens River chain of lakes in eastern California and then experiment with different climate change scenarios to simulate the Pleistocene history of lake filling ...

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Unit 7: Heat Flow in Permafrost part of Modeling Earth Systems
In this unit, students create a STELLA model of heat flow in the top 1 km of Earth's crust to explore the use of Arctic borehole temperature profiles as recorders of anthropogenic warming. The exercise draws ...

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Activities (15)

Radioactive Decay and Geochronology part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students create a STELLA model of the radioactive decay process.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Temperature Profiles in Permafrost part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students use STELLA to create a model of heatflow in permafrost to attempt to replicate the findings of Lachenbruch and Marshall (1986), who used inflections in the geothermal gradient of Alaskan permafrost to search for evidence of climatic change.

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Lake Level Changes in the Arid West part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students use the modeling program STELLA to see what combinations of runoff and evaporation might have lead to Pleistocene lake level oscillations in California's Owens River system.

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Global Phosphorus Cycle part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students create and modify a STELLA model of the global phosphorus cycle to test a number of scenarios.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Modeling Earth's Temperature part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students use the STELLA program to create hierarchies of models of increasing complexity to understand the absorption of solar energy by the Earth and its radiation of that energy back to space.

Landscape Diffusion Lab part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students create a STELLA model of two marine terrace platforms separated in elevation by a cliff, using the hillslope flux equation to simulate the change in the cliff face over time as diffusive processes tear it down.

Modeling U-Series Concordia/Discordia Using STELLA part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
U-Series dating techniques are widely used to determine the absolute ages of some of Earth's oldest rocks, but the concordia/discordia diagram can be quite difficult for students to grasp. I have produced a STELLA-based lab exercise to develop students' understanding of this important chronologic technique. Students create models of the two isotopic decay systems and run these models to create the concordia diagram. They then carry out experiments in which they "add" or "remove" varying amounts of lead or uranium in simulation of metamorphism. In the course of the lab, students are introduced to the concepts of exponential decay and secular equilibrium as well as modeling concepts such as the creation of if-then statements.

Daisyworld Model part of Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
In this exercise, students recreate the classic Daisyworld model of Watson and Lovelock (1983). Daisyworld is a planet covered by two species of daisy, one white and one black, whose growth is determined by ...

Modeling Earth's Energy Balance part of Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
In this exercise, students use the STELLA box modeling software to determine Earth's temperature based on incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial radiation. Starting with a simple black body model, ...

Daisyworld Lab part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students explore a STELLA model of Daisyworld, a self-regulating system incorporating positive and negative feedbacks.

Unit 1: Introduction to Modeling Dynamic Systems part of Modeling Earth Systems
× This course teaches students how to use numerical modeling to understand the complex Earth system. Provenance: This photo of Earth was taken by NASA astronauts: ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
Learn more about this review process.

Unit 2: Modeling Population part of Modeling Earth Systems
× Exponential growth of the human population has led to a variety of environmental problems, such as this Beijing traffic jam. Provenance: Image apparently free to be used: ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
Learn more about this review process.

Unit 6: Hydrologic Balance and Climate Change part of Modeling Earth Systems
In this unit, students create a STELLA model of the Owens River chain of lakes in eastern California and then experiment with different climate change scenarios to simulate the Pleistocene history of lake filling ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
Learn more about this review process.

Unit 7: Heat Flow in Permafrost part of Modeling Earth Systems
In this unit, students create a STELLA model of heat flow in the top 1 km of Earth's crust to explore the use of Arctic borehole temperature profiles as recorders of anthropogenic warming. The exercise draws ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
Learn more about this review process.

Summative Assessment: Creating a model part of Modeling Earth Systems
The summative assessment for this course requires students to construct, utilize, and critique a numerical model of a climate-related Earth system of their choosing. The project involves four pieces: creating a ...

Course (1)

Modeling Earth Systems part of Modeling Earth Systems
In this course, we develop the qualitative and quantitative tools for constructing, experimenting with, and interpreting dynamic models of different components of the Earth system. The integrated set of ten modules ...

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Essay (1)

Modeling the Earth part of Complex Systems:Workshop 2010:Participant Essays
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College The class in which my students acquire the most hands-on experience with complex systems is my senior seminar on numerical modeling, entitled Modeling the Earth. This course ...

Other Contribution (1)

Kirsten Menking: Using Modeling Earth Systems in Modeling the Earth at Vassar College part of Modeling Earth Systems
I used the Modeling Earth Systems materials in my Modeling the Earth senior seminar at Vassar College in the spring of 2016. I have taught a numerical modeling course for science students for many years now, but this was the first time that the course focused entirely on the climate system. Fourteen students, drawing from the programs in Earth Science, Biology, and Environmental Studies, took the course, which met once a week for four hours. During that time, students learned the fundamentals of modeling in the context of exercises about Earth's radiative equilibrium with the sun, the role of life in moderating climate, the impact of changes in Earth's orbital cycles on the growth and decay of ice sheets, how climate change affects thermohaline circulation (and vice versa), and how human greenhouse gas emissions are altering global temperatures, among other topics.

Communities

Member of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Eastern Section

Workshop Leader

Workshop Participant