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Friday, 26 March 2010 11:48

Climate Change Basics

Climate Change BasicsDriven by a commitment to solutions, the Will Steger Foundation provides information on climate change basics, giving educators and learners background knowledge to work towards slowing climate change.

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Friday, 29 January 2010 16:53

Adventure Learning Guide

The following resources can be used to supplement the existing Will Steger Foundation Curriculum. Resources include links to external sites that contain helpful related information and activities, and clips from the Will Steger Foundation video and audio archives that can be connected with specific lesson plan topics.

Thursday, 06 March 2008 11:35

Scientists: Overview

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Scientists: Profiles

acc_Achim_BeylichAchim A. Beylich
acc_brenda_hallBrenda Hall
icon_mouse_rubyDr. John S. Kimball
acc_Maarten_Loonen3Dr. Maarten J.J.E. Loonen
acc_Steve_ZackSteve Zack
acc_simon_beltSimon Belt

Another word for “scientist” is investigator. Scientists look at the world and find gaps in our understanding of how things work and they design investigations to try to figure out the answers to questions. The results of every experiment and the data from every project are like pieces in a puzzle; the more pieces we get the better our understanding.

The polar regions interest scientists because nowhere on earth is the climate is changing more dramatically or more rapidly. Melting polar ice caps and surging glaciers can impact global climate and ocean circulation and raise sea levels. Melting permafrost can release stored carbon. Many birds and other animals migrate to the Arctic during its summer to feed and raise their young. Arctic peoples live close to the land and sense its changes. Scientists want to investigate these and other questions related to the polar regions.

The settlements in the High Arctic are home to many scientific projects. Resolute, on the south coast of Cornwallis Island is the base for the Polar Continental Shelf Project and home to a weather station. Eureka, on Ellesmere Island, operates a weather station that researches the ozone layer, weather, northern lights, long-range transport of pollutants, and climate change. At the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, Alert, the most northerly permanent settlement in the world, scientists study air chemistry, ozone, air pollution and weather. The Global Warming 101 expedition visited some of these communities. Read up on what the expedition discovered here.

The international scientific community declared March 2007 to March 2009 the International Polar Year and will be focusing efforts on investigating the atmosphere, ice, land, oceans, people and space. The IPY needs youth and young scientists to help in this global effort. Visit www.ipy.org/ to find out more about ongoing projects.

Questions:
  • What do you want to know about the climate in your home region?
  • How could you investigate your questions?
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 16:36

Arctic Explorers: Overview

Modern Explorers

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In 1995 explorer Will Steger left Siberia, crossed the frozen Arctic Ocean over the North Pole and arrived at northern Canada’s Ward Hunt ice shelf, the largest ice sheet in the Arctic. An ice shelf is a glacier that extends out over the ocean, floating on the surface of the water. Early explorer Robert Peary first recorded observations of the Ward Hunt ice sheet in the early 1900s. By comparing Peary’s records to modern observations, Steger knew that the ice sheet had been shrinking. In 2002 the Ward Hunt ice sheet broke apart. Steger and other explorers witness these changes and help draw public attention to the changing climate of the polar regions.

Steger’s 2008 expedition to the High Arctic will focus attention on the remnants of Ellesmere Island’s Ayles ice shelf which broke apart in 2005. Pieces of what was once the Ayles ice shelf are now floating down the coast of Ellesmere Island.

Modern Explorer Profiles

Richard Weber Lonnie Dupre Börge Ousland Anne Bancroft Paul Schurke Will Steger
Richard
Weber
Lonnie
Dupre
Börge
Ousland
Anne
Bancroft
Paul
Schurke
Will
Steger


Young Explorers

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A new generation of polar explorers is emerging. Six of these young people are accompanying Will Steger on his Global Warming 101 expedition to Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic. Meet these young explorers and follow their expedition.

Young Explorer Profiles

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Tobias
Thorleifsson
Ben
Horton
Sigrid
Ekran
Sam
Branson

 


Historic Explorers

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Some early expeditions were successful in reaching the High Arctic. The first explorers’ confidence in western methods and the technology of the day, however, did not prepare them for the harsh Arctic conditions.

Questions:

  1. When you explore your home region, what do you discover?
  2. When you read historical records of the climate in your home or talk with elder members of your community, what changes do you find?
  3. How can you share your discoveries with others?
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 00:00

Arctic Animals: Overview

Fanhitch

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Arctic Animals: Profiles

icon_mouse_darkorangeReading 01: Polar Bear
icon_mouse_greenReading 02: Ice-edge dwellers
icon_mouse_greyscaleReading 03: Land dwellers
icon_mouse_rubyReading 04: Ocean Communities
icon_mouse_greyscaleReading 05: Plant Communities
Animals of the High Arctic have special adaptations that allow them to survive in the harsh climate. The muskox, stays warm with a double-layer of insulation. Shaggy coarse outer hairs shed the snow and block the wind and keeps an under-layer short wool called “qiviut” dry. When Arctic storms hit, muskox huddle in groups and can become completely covered with blowing snow. They stay perfectly warm under the snow in their double-layered coats. When the storm is over, they simply stand up and shake off the snow.

The Peary Caribou have hollow hairs that trap their body heat and insulate them from the cold, much like a puffy coat traps your body heat, keeping you warm in the winter. Caribou and muskox are herbivores, meaning they have to be able to find plants and lichens to eat. In the winter this means using their sense of smell to find food under the snow and then digging with their hooves to reach the food. Climate change can make freezing rain and thaw-freeze events more common in the Arctic which can coat the ground in a layer of ice that makes it difficult for caribou and muskox to reach their food.

Polar bears have thick coats and a large nose for warming the air they breathe. A mother bear will den under the snow during the four coldest months of winter where she and her cubs will be out of the wind and warm. You might not think of a snow den as being warm, but because of the tiny air pockets trapped in snow, snow is a good insulator, just like the insulation in the walls of your house. The mother doesn’t eat during the four months she and her cubs are in their den, so when they emerge in the spring she must successfully hunt seals on the sea ice. A warming climate can reduce the amount of sea ice and make hunting difficult. It can also cause snow dens to collapse.

Questions:
  1. What special adaptations do animals in your area have to survive in the wild?
  2. How would the animals in your area and the animals in the Arctic be impacted if the climate changed?
  3. Arctic animals have special adaptations that allow them to live in harsh climates. As the climate warms and other animals expand their ranges northward, how do you think Arctic animals will compete with them for resources?
  4. The food web connects animals in an ecosystem. For example, in the High Arctic wolves eat caribou and muskox. How do you think changes to the population of one animal might affect other animals?
Thursday, 06 March 2008 10:57

Arctic Peoples: Overview

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Arctic Peoples: Handouts

icon_mouse_darkblueHand-out 1: Paul Tiulana
icon_mouse_darkorangeHand-out 2: Inuit of Pangnirtung, Baffin Island
icon_mouse_greenHand-out 3: Native Arctic peoples’ observations

For the last four thousand years Inuit have been living in the extreme conditions of the High Arctic. The first people came to Ellesmere Island to hunt muskox, caribou and sea mammals. They used sledges for winter transportation and kayaks in the summer and lived in small nomadic groups.

The Inuit way of life changed when the Arctic climate went through a natural period of warming between the years 1000 and 1200 A.D. Attracted by the warmer climate, greater numbers of whales migrated further north into the Arctic Ocean. Whale-hunting people spread from northern Alaska across the Arctic. Hunting and butchering large whales required the work and cooperation of many people, but the labor was rewarded by a more secure source of food and resources and a strong community culture.

The warmer weather also attracted Norse Vikings who settled in Greenland. The Vikings traded and fought with the Inuit. The warmer climate did not last, however, and from around 1450 until the end of the 18th century a natural cycle of cooling forced the whales further south and contributed to the disappearance of the Viking settlements in Greenland. The Inuit also had to adapt to the colder climate. They moved south from Ellesmere Island to Baffin Island and Northwest Greenland, eventually becoming two separate cultures, the Inuit of Baffin and the Inughuit of Northwest Greenland.

Today Inuit and Inughuit continue to live close to the land, getting a large portion of their diet from hunting, fishing and gathering. Changes in the climate can impact their ability to successfully hunt or travel from community to community.

Questions:
  1. How did the climate of your home region influence the way of life of the historical inhabitants?
  2. How does the climate influence the way you live?
  3. If the climate were to change in your home, what types of adaptations would you have to make?
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 10:57

Arctic Community Curriculum: Overview

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Learn More:

seal fanhitch01
Arctic Animals Arctic Peoples
science01 science01
Scientists Arctic Explorers

We are all members of the community of Planet Earth. Looking in detail at a specific area, namely the Arctic, can help us appreciate the meaning of community.

In the Arctic community we see different members with diverse perspectives and ways of knowing all contributing to knowledge and action to slow climate change. The lessons of community learned by studying the Arctic can inspire and empower all of us in our roles as community members on Planet Earth. The focus is on solutions and positive messages of hope and action.

For each Arctic community member you can explore:

icon_lessonplansLesson Plan designed specifically for middle school students (but which could be easily adapted for use with other ages of students)
icon_discussionDiscussion Starter designed for use with high school and college students
icon_actionAction! opportunities
icon_moreresourcesResources for continued study
Adventure LearningAdventure Learning brings the expedition and authentic learning experiences to classrooms via the internet.
Thursday, 06 March 2008 11:58

Achim A. Beylich - Scientists

beylich

Achim A. Beylich(Trondheim, Norway)
International Association of Geomorphologists (I.A.G./A.I.G.)
working group SEDIBUD – Sediment Budgets in Cold Environments
Other scientists working on this project: Scott F. Lamoureux (Kingston, Canada) & Armelle Decaulne (Clermont-Ferrand, France)

http://www.geomorph.org/wg/wgsb.html

What questions related to the Arctic are you trying to answer? Within our working group we address the central question: What are the contemporary sediment fluxes in Polar regions?

How will answers to those questions help us understand more about the world? Better knowledge on contemporary sediment fluxes in Polar regions will help us to better understand which effects Global Change will have in these regions. We need to know more about relationships between our present climate and sedimentary fluxes to be able to predict consequences of Global Change. Sediment is a critical component of the materials that rivers move. Changes in sediment fluxes have important ecosystem and landscape impacts.

How are you trying to find answers to those questions? We are a large group of international scientists working together on these very relevant questions. Everybody in our group carries out his or her own research in different parts of the world and we organise meetings and exchange our knowledge, our experiences, and our data. Everybody benefits from this intensive exchange and from our joining of forces. We develop and agree on common methods within our studies, so we can even better compare our results from our different study areas around the Globe. By joining our forces we take the challenge of understanding which effects Global Change will have on surface processes in sensitive Polar regions of our planet.

Recount for us one of your field days in the Arctic: As geomorphologists we can spend a lot of time every year in nature. We can experience different landscapes and all different types of weather. Being in contact with these natural forces is fascinating, and the always-changing lights and colours in Polar landscapes are a great experience. We can share all this with colleagues participating in our field campaigns and coming from different parts of the world. This is also a great cultural experience.

What is most rewarding about being a scientist? Spending a lot of time in fascinating nature and together with colleagues from different parts of the world is an experience that cannot be replaced by anything else. Being a scientist means being free in our scientific work and working together with colleagues from all different parts of the world. It is a great privilege to decide by ourselves where we carry out our research and which questions we address within our research. We have a great responsibility to serve mankind by trying to solve important problems connected to Global Change. Being a scientist is a great challenge.

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