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Climate Wisconsin Ice Cover

Finn Ryan, Scott Pauli, Pitch Interactive, Wisconsin Educational Communications Board

This is an interactive graph that involves records of ice cover in two Wisconsin lakes - Lake Mendota and Lake Monona - from 1855-2010.

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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

  • There are teaching tips included on this webpage and other features supporting this visualization on the main climatewisconsin.org website.
  • The datasets used in this visualization are very specifically about Wisconsin. It may be difficult for teachers in other states to draw useful lessons from it. Not only the idea of ice cover days but also the specific local culture and economic impacts may be a foreign concept to some students. Nonetheless, it might be useful as a case study of the effects of climate change on the Earth system.
  • Students could compare the University of New Hampshire's 100-year dataset of ice on/ice off to Wisconsin's. Some of the UNH data is from farmers' records and journals. See the following website: http://neisa.unh.edu/Climate/IceOut.html

About the Science

  • Interactive provides simple buttons that allow users to view the 10 longest seasons, the 10 shortest seasons and the overall trend. The records show significant year-to-year variability in the length of the ice-cover season, but there is a clear trend of fewer ice-cover days over time. In both lakes, the 10 longest ice cover winters were prior to 1905; the shortest ice cover seasons mainly fall in the last 20 years. Makes the important point that although there is significant year-to-year variability, there also is an unmistakable trend in these data. There also are pop-ups that give the actual dates of ice cover and melting for each year.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The resource provides a useful, easy-to-read historical record of ice cover for two well-known lakes in Madison. The biological and limnological significance of changing ice cover on the lakes is explained accurately and at a level accessible to non-scientists. Wisconsin.In each case, the science is accurate and accessible to anyone interested in understanding how climate change has affected Wisconsin.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very engaging data display that allows students to examine how the period of ice cover has changed over the decades.
  • The main point of this visualization is to show that climate change is already happening, and the overall trend is to have significantly fewer ice covered days on these two lakes.
  • The simple examination of these datasets opens up questions about the long-term implications for local culture and economy. There are other resources on this website that explore these implications in further depth.
  • High quality inquiry-based exercise that can lead to many difference investigations.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The technical quality of the graphical and the interactive features is very high.
  • Excellent interface.

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


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