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At the Core of Climate Change

KQED, Teachers' Domain

This video shows where and how ice cores are extracted from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), cut, packaged, flown to the ice core storage facility in Denver, further sliced into samples, and shipped to labs all over the world where scientists use them to study indicators of climate change from the past.

Video length is 19 min 29 sec.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Global warming and especially arctic warming is recorded in natural geological and historic records
About Teaching Principle 4
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Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
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Climate models are robust enough to be used for guiding decision and actions as response to climate change
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Our understanding of climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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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

  • Because the video is long (19 min) and has a great deal of information, teachers may want to use it in chunks.

About the Science

  • Dr. Kendrick Taylor of the Desert Research Institute and Chief Scientist for the WAIS Divide Ice Core project narrates the video. He takes viewers on a tour around the camp, discusses the process by which ice cores are drilled and extracted from the ice sheet, and explains the importance of ice cores in the overall understanding of Earth's climate history and current climate change. The greenhouse effect and climate models are discussed within the context of ice core data.
  • At the very beginning of the video, scientist refers to heating of the inside of the vehicle cab as an example of the greenhouse effect. This is an oft-used but not a good analogy for the greenhouse effect. The reason for heating a car is due to lack of convection and the heating due to the greenhouse effect is based on absorption and reemission of Earth's infrared energy by greenhouse gases.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It takes students into the places where the research is conducted. It deals with two of the main tools of climate research: paleoclimate data and climate models. It is interesting without pandering to short attention spans.

About the Pedagogy

  • KQED has developed curricula materials to go along with this video, but they are simply watch and answer questions and thus do not represent best pedagogical practice.
  • The video is full of information that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, the video can be the basis of a flipped lesson with some of the better questions culled from the KQED lesson or new ones written by the teacher.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

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