Jump to this Activity »
Sea Ice Extension for the Earth as a System Learning Activity
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/visualization/examples/21967.html

Gary Randolph, GLOBE Program, Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center, SERC On The Cutting Edge Collection

The purpose of this activity 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, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.

Activity takes two class periods plus possibly additional time for preparation and extension activities.

Discuss this Resource»
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

When Earth emits the same amount of energy as it absorbs, its energy budget is in balance, and its average temperature remains stable.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1b
Sunlight reaching the Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a
Earth’s climate is influenced by interactions involving the Sun, ocean, atmosphere, clouds, ice, land, and life. Climate varies by region as a result of local differences in these interactions.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2a
The interconnectedness of Earth’s systems means that a significant change in any one component of the climate system can influence the equilibrium of the entire Earth system. Positive feedback loops can amplify these effects and trigger abrupt changes in the climate system. These complex interactions may result in climate change that is more rapid and on a larger scale than projected by current climate models.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Climate is determined by the long-term pattern of temperature and precipitation averages and extremes at a location. Climate descriptions can refer to areas that are local, regional, or global in extent. Climate can be described for different time intervals, such as decades, years, seasons, months, or specific dates of the year.
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4a

Energy Literacy

The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws.
Other materials addressing:
Energy is a physical quantity.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
Other materials addressing:
2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:D) Flow of matter and energy
Other materials addressing:
D) Flow of matter and energy.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The earth has a variety of climates, defined by average temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, and wind, over time in a particular place.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Climatic conditions result from latitude, altitude, and from the position of mountain ranges, oceans, and lakes. Dynamic processes such as cloud formation, ocean currents, and atmospheric circulation patterns influence climates as well.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Most of the activity is written in the assignment file
  • Activity focuses on 2007 sea ice minimum, so teacher will need to update activity with data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ or other sources.
  • Requires a substantial amount of teacher preparation to ensure students don't get lost in the material.
  • Install required software on school computers prior to doing activity to save time.

About the Science

  • Data-rich activity that pulls from a number of different sources. Will need good preparation to ensure students don't get lost in materials.
  • This activity combines two other activities that have also been reviewed for the CLEAN collection and provides an extension to those activities.
  • Data in activity is for 2007, but concepts still apply as do skills developed by activity; data sources links provided so instructor could easily update the activity to current data.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Conveys how solar energy varies with latitude and by season, shows albedo affects how much solar energy gets absorbed.
  • Uses sea ice as an example to show changes in the surface can dramatically change the amount of absorbed energy.
  • Resource based on assumption of a cloud-free environment.

About the Pedagogy

  • Involves visualizations and spreadsheet data manipulation.
  • Data modeling and output make this activity interesting to students.
  • Activity extensions and follow-ups are suggested in Word handout.
  • Assessment suggestions are general, and educators may need to develop appropriate strategies.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Hand-out materials give detailed instructions to students and are easy to follow.
  • A basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel will help students.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

This activity is related to another CLEAN activity called "Whither Arctic Sea Ice" found at http://cleanet.org/resources/41826.html. Updated 2007 Earth Systems poster available here: http://classic.globe.gov/page?earth_system

Jump to this Activity »



Have you used these materials with your students? Do you have insights to share with other educators about their use? Please share with the community by adding a comment below.

Please use this space only for discussion about teaching with these particular materials.
For more general discussion about teaching climate literacy please use our general discussion boards.
To report a problem or direct a comment to the CLEAN project team please use our feedback form (or the feedback link at the bottom of every page).
Off-topic posts will be deleted.

Join the Discussion


Log in to reply