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Arctic Tundra May Contribute to Warmer World

University of Florida, National Science Foundation

In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.

Each of the 3 videos is about 1 minute long.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
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Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
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Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
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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

  • Appropriate for environmental science biology or Earth science courses, grades 6 - 14.
  • Supporting materials more appropriate for upper high school and undergrad students.
  • The pieces provide rich materials for an in-depth unit of curriculum on carbon balance, which may include the Nature paper.
  • Illustrations can be made larger and downloaded or used as handouts.
  • Younger students could be encouraged to create a concept map illustrating the mechanisms, inputs, and outputs of this carbon cycle and how it contributes to climate change naturally.

About the Science

  • A review of Arctic ecologist Ted Schuur's research using radiocarbon dating to track current metabolism of old carbon in an area where permafrost thaw is increasing.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The study is based on the direct measurements of carbon using instruments and thus provides direct evidence of terrestrial carbon release following permafrost thaw.

About the Pedagogy

  • Accompanying the slideshow are two video clips and a wonderful background article along with two visual illustrations depicting the carbon cycle and changes in the carbon balance over time. All provide ample scaffolding.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Slideshow is excellent with beautiful photographs.
  • The inability to download the video encourages watching it on an individual laptop or projected onto a screen for larger audiences.
  • The accompanying pieces complement its effectiveness and ease of use.

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