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Frozen Carbon

Jonathan Corum, New York Times

This is a polar map of permafrost extent in the Northern Hemisphere. A sidebar explains how permafrost, as it forms and later thaws, serves as both a sink and source for carbon to the atmosphere. Related multimedia is a slideshow of permafrost scientists from U. of Alaska, Fairbanks, collecting permafrost data in the field.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Science and Engineering Practice
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

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

  • Use with National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) website for much more extensive information on permafrost.

About the Science

  • This polar map shows the extent of permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the sea ice extent in September 2011.
  • Map units are percent area of permanently frozen ground.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Visually very pleasing. Requires further context. It is suggested to combine this resource with others to give a fuller picture.

About the Pedagogy

  • Polar view maps are always useful in countering the distortions of the common US-centric maps.
  • Brief text, illustrations, and photos of scientists help make the importance of permafrost clearer and more interesting to those in more southern latitudes.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Since this graphic comes from the New York Times, there are some commercial elements on this webpage. The map and graphical elements of this webpage can be downloaded from a web browser. Photos of scientists appear on a different page, which has ads for movies in the sidebar.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

Middle School

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS1.B2:Cyclical changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun, together with changes in the tilt of the planet’s axis of rotation, both occurring over hundreds of thousands of years, have altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on the earth. These phenomena cause a cycle of ice ages and other gradual climate changes.

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

HS-P4.6: Analyze data to identify design features or characteristics of the components of a proposed process or system to optimize it relative to criteria for success.

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