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Documenting Glacial Change


A collection of repeat photography of glaciers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The photos are taken years apart at or near the same location, illustrating how dramatically glacier positions can change even over a relatively short period in geological time: 60 to 100 years. Background essay and discussion questions are included.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Global warming and especially arctic warming is recorded in natural geological and historic records
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Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
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Effects of climate change on water cycle and freshwater availability
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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

About the Science

  • The Background Essay gives a nice overview of causes and effects of glacial retreat.
  • The effect on the immediate environment, once glaciers recede, is readily apparent. Receding glaciers leave telltale signs of their presence in the landscape. With the ice gone, glaciated terrain may be characterized by an eroded valley bed and debris piles, ripe for colonization by pioneer plant species.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The background essay excels in explaining many basic and important concepts. In order to understand why glaciers respond to climate changes the concept of mass balance is crucial, and the explanation is straightforward and clear. Could be updated with more recent images.

About the Pedagogy

  • Easy to see the changes over time.
  • Images pairs are supported by an essay and multiple links to other resources both print and media.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Sliders work well. Photos are well-enough-aligned for change over time to be striking.

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