This video describes and shows how scientists analyze the gases trapped in ancient ice cores in order to learn about Earth's atmosphere in the past.
Students will learn that scientists have concrete evidence, demonstrated by the abundance of specific carbon isotopes in the ice, that global warming is being caused by burning fossil fuels and other human activities.
Students will be interested in seeing the equipment that scientists use in research laboratories and learning how they can figure out so many things from a piece of ancient ice.
The video contains diagrams and animations that help to illustrate the more complicated concepts.
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Students should be familiar with the terms atom, isotope, and neutron.
Chemistry, physics, and biology classes could use this video to introduce students to other uses of stable isotopes and radioactive isotopes, such as tracing molecules through food webs, medical testing, and tracing global cycles in the oceans and atmosphere.
English language arts or writing classes could write persuasive essays on how people need to act swiftly in order to stop climate change. Students could cite evidence from the video to prove that climate change is really happening.
Other resources on this topic include this lesson and activity on understanding the importance of isotopes, this activity on analyzing past climate conditions using a tree's rings, and this resource highlighting graduate students that study ice cores.
This video underscores Earth's air temperature in relation to climate change. It shows past air temperature using ice core samples and measurements. It also explains the impact of human-induced CO2 in accelerating global warming. This resource is recommended for teaching.
ESS2: Earth's Systems
7.ESS2.2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
6.ESS3.5 Ask clarifying questions based on evidence about the factors that have caused climate change over the past century.
LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
7.LS1.6 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
HS.LS2.5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
7.PS1.2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
HS.PS1.5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.