Saturday, November 27, 2010

Module VIII - Cryosphere Introduction

Explain - What new learning have I taken from this module?

 It is easy to forget that the melting of sea ice doesn't actually change the level of the oceans.   This module was a great reminder of this and the associated experiment with the ice melting in the glass of water is a very good demonstration of that phenomenon.  This module pointed out that the bigger issue with melting sea ice is the fact that the albedo of ice and snow is much higher than that of open water.  Yet another one of those nasty positive feedback loops. 

The second page of the module pointed out some of the other effects of the melting sea ice.  Shishmaref is a coastal village bombarded by my more violent winter storms with much less ice to keep the waters down, resulting in alarming erosion of their little island.  Whalers in Barrow and hunters in Northern Canada have to adapt to much more difficult and dangerous conditions to get to their food.  Read more about that in Charles Wohlforth's The Whale and The Supercomputer.  If humans with their snow machines and motor boats are having a harder time of it as the sea ice vanishes, imagine the plight of the polar bear.

all photos:  D. Armstrong

Extend and Evaluate - How can I use this week's resources and how useful, insightful or relevant are this module's information resources to me?

I found the Our World 2.0 website to be an incredibly diverse source of articles on climate change and indigenous peoples around the world.  It would be a great place to send students doing research on those subjects.

I felt that the video on Shishmaref would be a great way to bring home to the students how global warming is already effecting people within their own state.  Climate change is not some distant phenomenon that effects only the people of New Orleans or some tropical atoll.

The NASA video on the Earth's cryosphere will be very instructional when introducing the cryosphere to students.  It is a great overview and does a great job of showing how changes in everything from Rocky Mountain snowpack to Greenlandic glaciers has an effect on the planet.

Lastly, of course, I can use the experiment with the melting glass of ice and water to demonstrate everything from melting sea ice to buoyancy and density.  The salt water experiment is also a good one.  Our physics classes already do a lab in which ice cream is made the old-fashioned way.

Three Colleagues

Dan's blog has a great link to Ian Guch's website with all sorts of free stuff for teaching chemistry.  Great site, Dan.

Janet's blog has a link to a very moving video of one man's personal experience with climate change.

Tyler's blog has a great shot of Mt. Redoubt erupting, a reference to Project Wild's excellent resources and a useful link to UAF's science forum website.

1 comment:

  1. If I only had another hour to cruise these blogs for great resources!

    Thanks for recommendation on Wohlforth's book. Is this the one reviewed in the NY Times books review?

    Nice pint glasses, you must put away some salmon for the winter?