Jump to this Video »
AK-03 ALASKA: AK-03 Columbia Glacier “Cliff” (Narrated)

James Balog, Tad Pfeffer , Extreme Ice Survey

A video from the Extreme Ice Survey in which Dr. Tad Pfeffer and photographer Jim Balog discuss the dynamics of the Columbia glacier's retreat in recent years through this time-lapse movie. Key point: glacier size is being reduced not just by glacial melting but due to a shift in glacial dynamics brought on by climate change.

Video length: 1:20 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Climate is variable
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is variable
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Humans affect climate
Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a

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

  • Should be used in conjunction with other time lapse videos and related background materials on glacier retreat as evidence of climate change.

About the Science

  • Dr. Pfeffer and Jim Balog touch on the combination of human climate change pushing the glacier and natural dynamics taking over.
  • In addition to warming temperatures, topography plays a role in the rapid flow speeds at Columbia Glacier.
  • The Extreme Ice Survey is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography to document the rapid changes now occurring on Earth's glacial ice.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Powerful time-lapse imagery of Columbia Glacier retreat and voice overlay with Tad Pfeffer and James Balog. Tad does a nice job explaining the link between the ice dynamics (which is responsible for the retreat) and changes in the climate (responsible for initiating the retreat). Tidewater glaciers (of which Columbia is one) are very complex systems subject to internal feedbacks, such that a perturbation can set of a chain of feedbacks. That is essentially what has happened at Columbia, and although Tad/James do a nice job describing the climate-dynamics feedback, the resource is very short and someone without sufficient background/other knowledge might not understand the significance of this connection, and ONLY see the rapidly retreating glacier. This resource would be most valuable/effective if used as part of a larger lesson plan incorporating other resources.

About the Pedagogy

  • While there are other background materials on the EIS website, this and related narrated videos provide an overview of the time-lapse movies of Arctic glaciers retreating due to natural process coupled with human impacts on the climate system.
  • No pedagogy is provided.
  • This video is a short 1:20 minutes of time lapse photography/video, yet conveys key points quite powerfully nonetheless.
  • Video would have to be accompanied by lessons on glacier retreat and impact on climate change.
  • Other similar clips available on the Extreme Ice Survey Vimeo page.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.

MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS2.D3:The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-ESS2.A1:Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes.

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Cause and effect

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

Jump to this Video »