Why does the ice melt on the “Frozen Continent”?


In this lesson, students investigate various factors that can lead to surface ice melt in Antarctica by pairing a scientific mindset with hands-on exploration of datasets.

Context for Use

This is the fourth lesson of a five-part curriculum about Antarctic physical environments and ecosystems. 

Blue Ice Area in East Antarctica

Blue ice area in front of the northernmost part of the Heimefrontfjella, East Antarctica.
Credit: N. B. Karlsson


Goals Header
What Students Will Do

  • Use a Climate Reanalyzer tool to compare melt areas in Antarctica with climatological variables.
  • Build, test, and confirm or refute hypotheses using the claim, evidence, reasoning framework for an argument

Teaching Materials

Student Handout: Why does the ice melt on the “Frozen Continent”?
Teacher Guide: Why does the ice melt on the “Frozen Continent”?
Why does the ice melt on the “Frozen Continent” Slide Deck


Part 1 –  (10 minutes) Introduction

The teacher introduces the lesson and the data which will be at the students’ disposal.

Part 2 –  (30 minutes) Research

Students break up into small groups to form and explore hypotheses about what causes melt in Antarctica with the available datasets.

Part 3 –  (20 minutes) Reporting Out

Student groups share whether they confirmed/disproved their hypotheses and why.


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