Climate scientists have used the gases trapped in ice cores over the last quarter of a century to understand how Earth's atmosphere has changed in the past. They use this information to then build models that try and predict how the climate system may change in the future.
Understand that snow forms into ice on glaciers and ice sheets via compaction.
Understand that air bubbles from the atmosphere that are present in the snow become trapped as the snow turns into ice and can be sampled 100,000's of years later.
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The students will come to understand how an ice core forms and how they are useful in looking at past atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.
Activity 1 – Engage (5-10 minutes) Age of Trapped Carbon Dioxide
Show the students an image of ice core carbon dioxide data.
Activity 2 – Explore (5-10 minutes) Trapping Carbon Dioxide
Students make observations about snow in a sealable bag.
Activity 3 – Explain (5-10 minutes) From Ice in a Bag to Glacier Formation
Have a group discussion about students’ observations.