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Database Provider


TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Interactive Media
  • Lesson Plans
  • Presentation Slides
  • Projects

Regional Focus

Global, Polar Regions


PDF, YouTube Video

Climate and the Cryosphere Unit Labs

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  • This unit on climate and the cryosphere consists of six labs: Getting to know the Cryosphere, Earth's Frozen Oceans, Land Ice, Climate History & the Cryosphere, Evidence of Recent Change, and Future of the Cryosphere.
  • Students will learn the important role that ice plays in polar regions, and how climate change is causing both land ice and sea ice to melt.
  • Each of the labs contains articles, hands-on activities, videos, data, maps, graphs, interactive media, and discussion questions. 
Teaching Tips


  • The "Lab Overviews" section includes lists of the materials that teachers will need in order to complete each activity.
  • The engaging activities will help visual learners to understand the concepts presented in each lab.
  • The learning objectives for each lab are outlined in the educator's section.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This resource offers "EarthLabs for Educators" and "EarthLabs for Students". Teachers can toggle between the two by clicking on "EarthLabs for Students" located at the bottom of the menu on the lefthand side of the screen.
  • Lab 5 includes an activity that requires students to download a program called "ImageJ".


  • English language arts or writing classes could write short stories set fifty years in the future. Students could imagine what will be different for people living in a world where the sea levels are higher and the cryosphere has changed dramatically. 
  • History classes could discuss how ice cores could help historians to understand how the world's climate has changed during different points in history. Students could reflect on what the climate might tell historians about the people who lived during that time.
  • Other resources on this topic include this NASA resource on sea ice, this video on using ice cores to understand how the climate has changed, and this Grist video on climate change tipping points. 
Scientist Notes
The resource provides a comprehensive unit that teaches students the role that ice plays in regulating earth's climate. This resource is recommended for teaching. The concepts and data are logical and valid.
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
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