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Let's Get to the Core of It! Day 4:

Possible Causes (Language Arts)
Let's Get to the Core of It! (Science)
Eating Up Energy (Math)
Stakeholders Grid (Social Studies)
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Links on this page:Background Information | Student Directions | Student Data Sheet | Graph | Student Questions | Teacher Answer Key | Graphing Activity |  Graphing Activity -Grids | Additional Information

National Education Standards Met:

sciencekey03

Science discipline

 
Goal: Students understand that climate history is investigated and monitored using ice core science.

Objectives: Students will:

  • Make physical and observation measurements of an ice core to understand the science behind ice core science.
  • Identify and graph gas amounts derived from actual ice core to understand the worldwide attention that is given to the increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. 



Materials (for 30 students working in pairs):

  • 30 Let's Get to the Core of It - Background Information Sheet & Core Locations Map
  • Popsicle for each pair of students
    (Necco wafers or Smarties may be used instead of a Popsicle to simulate ice core sample.)
  • 15 Paper plates
  • 15 Plastic knifes
  • 30 Ice Core student sheets
  • 30 Data charts from ice cores, graph paper
     

Time: 45 minutes

Standards Met: G3, G5, S1, S2, S3

Procedure:

PREP-create the ice core sample

  • Using different types of juice, Kool Aid, or other colored or flavored liquids, freeze in layers. 
  • To add texture to the layers, you may add candy sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc.
  • You may be able to purchase rainbow popsicles to save time.
  • If you do not want to use Popsicles, Necco wafers or Smarties may be substituted.
     

IN CLASS

  • Pass out Let's Get to the Core of It - Background Information Sheet & Core Location Map to each student
  • Allow time for students to read the information
  • Explain to students that you will be doing a lab to simulate an ice core sample and data collection
  • **This is a tasting lab, make sure students understand the rules of clean hands and proper taste testing.
  • Divide students into groups of 2
  • Pass out Let's Get to the Core of It! - Student Directions and Record Sheet to each student
  • Pass out one paper plate, knife, and ice core sample (popsicle or Necco Wafer) to each group
  • Have students follow the procedure on Let's Get to the Core of It! - Student Directions and Record Sheet
  • Students finish their ice core and clean-up
     

AT THIS POINT YOU HAVE 2 OPTIONS: (1) students can complete a graph of real ice core (see graphing lesson plan), or (2) students can continue this lesson following the steps below.
 

  • Pass out the Let's Get to the Core of It Graph and Student Question sheets.
  • Students will need to read the graph and information to answer the questions on the student question sheet.
     

Let's Get to the Core of It! - Background Information

daytwo_pic102
The world's glaciers contain the history of climate change over many thousands of years. By studying this record, scientists can identify the natural cycles in global warming and cooling. Vertical cores drilled through several thousand feet of ice provide a sample of all the layers of snow that have accumulated over thousands of years. Some of the deepest cores have been drilled in Greenland and east Antarctica. The Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two drilled to a depth of 10,000 feet (3,050 m) representing over 110,000 years of environmental record. Scientists working at the Russian Antarctic base at Vostok have recently completed drilling and obtained the longest record of climate and atmospheric history: 420,000 years!

Ice cores drilled from the ice sheet provide a sample of all the layers of snow accumulated over thousands of years, the oldest at the bottom. Once a site is selected, a drill is set up and the coring begins. Mechanical drills can penetrate up to 3 feet (1 m) at a time before being withdrawn for the core to be recovered. To reachdaytwo_pic202 the 200 year depth, the team will have to drill 160-230 feet (50-70 m) which will typically take about a day. Ice cores are usually about 3 inches (10 cm) in diameter. As they are brought to the surface a scientist will examine the core and attempt to place that section of core in time. Alternating bands of light and dark snow can been seen when light is shone through the ice core from behind. The light layers represent summer snow and the dark layers are winter snow. By keeping track of the individual layers they can be counted in much the same way as tree rings. More sophisticated techniques for dating ice cores are done later back in the laboratory by analyzing the concentration of oxygen atoms in the ice.  Climate features such as air temperature, precipitation rate, and solar radiation can be interpreted from ice cores.
 
CORE LOCATION MAPS - ANTARCTICA
daytwo_pic302
 

Let's Get to the Core of It! - Student Directions
 

To complete this lab, you will need to do the following:

  1. Dissect your ice core
  2. Make observations about the core using your senses and measurement skills
  3. Record your observations.
  4. Compare your observations to a graph that depicts real data gained from ice core science.
     

Procedure:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Lay your ice core sample on the paper plate.
  • Carefully measure and record the length of your entire sample without touching the ruler to it.
  • On your Student Data Sheet, record the length.
  • Count and record the visibly different layers in the ice core sample.
  • On your Student Data Sheet, record the number of different layers visible.
  • On your Student Data Sheet, record the depth of each layer in the drawing.
  • On the layers on your Data Sheet, label each color of each layer.
  • Cut the layers apart with the knife
  • Taste each layer.  Record the taste, make sure you describe the flavor, texture, sweet, sour, etc. on your data sheet.
  • Finish your ice core sample and throw away plate and knives.
  • Using the Let's Get to the Core of It Graph and Student Questions Sheet, answer the questions in complete sentences.
     

Let's Get to the Core of It! - Student Data Sheet
 

  1. How long is your ice core sample? ______________________
  2. How many layers are in your ice core sample? __________

    Note: Your ice core sample may not have 10 different layers, use one layer on this sheet for each layer you measure on it

daytwo_pic402

 

  1. Using the Let's Get to the Core of It Graph, what 3 ions might be found in your ice core sample?  Do you have any evidence that one of these might be in your ice core sample?
     

Let's Get to the Core of It - Graph
 

daytwo_pic502

*dates are plus or minus one year
 


Let's Get to the Core of It! - Student Questions

Scientists were able to date this ice core with the help of some outside knowledge: They knew that the Tambora volcano erupted in 1815. Estimating that it took the volcanic sulfate about one to two years to reach Antarctica, scientists could then identify 1816-1817 from the first elevated (above normal) sulfate levels in the ice core. From that point, and using information about how certain chemical concentrations are connected to spring and fall, the dates for the rest of the core can be estimated. The volcanic sulfate from the unknown 1808-1809 eruption arrived in 1810-1811, as evidenced by the second set of elevated sulfate levels.
Sodium and chloride concentrations correspond closely because they come from the same source -- seawater. Elevated chloride concentrations during the volcanic events are likely a result of hydrogen chloride released during a volcanic eruption. Slightly elevated chloride concentrations in the non-volcanic years (1812 to 1816 and again in 1820) may be due to higher atmospheric hydrogen chloride that is present during summer months.
Peaks for winter and spring can be seen each year with peaks in sulfate (spring/summer) and sodium chloride (winter/spring); sometimes the seasons appear concurrently in the ice core because there is not a high enough sampling resolution. Southern Hemisphere winter occurs from June to August; spring occurs from December to February. Core dating is not an exact science; the estimates given are plus or minus one year. The total range for this data set is 1811-1821.


Sulfate (SO42)
The sulfate ion has several sources in this Antarctic ice core. The most important of these are marine biological processes and volcanic activity.

  • The sulfate ion produced by marine phytoplankton peaks in the spring. After the dark winter, the hours of daylight lengthen and the sea ice begins to melt and break up. This open ocean environment is ideal for marine phytoplankton growth. As the phytoplankton grow, they release sulfate-rich chemicals into the atmosphere, which in turn get transported by winds over the ice sheet.
  • Another source of sulfate is volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes can spew millions of tons of sulfate into the atmosphere and concentrations can remain high for several years following a large volcanic eruption.
  • The Tambora volcano in Sumbawa, Indonesia, erupted in 1815; acid from that event is believed to have settled in Antarctic ice about 1816-1817. Another unknown volcano erupted in late 1808 or early 1809.
     

Sodium (Na+) and Chloride (Cl-)
In this Antarctic ice core:

  • Most of the sodium and chloride ion concentrations come from the ocean in the form of sea salt (NaCl).
  • Sodium also has a terrestrial dust source but this only contributes a minute percentage in this core.
  • Chlorine can be given off by volcanic eruptions in the form of hydrochloric acid (HCl).
  • Sodium and chloride ion concentrations usually peak in the winter-spring season; during the winter-spring months the Antarctic wind strength increases and whips the ocean into foam and transports more sea salt ions inland. If many storms occur during a single season there can be several peaks superimposed upon one another.
     

1. What year does it appear that the volcanic sulfate from the unknown 1808-1809 volcano eruption arrived in Antarctica?
 

 

2. Look at your graph. What patterns, if any, do you see among the sodium, chloride, and sulfate ion concentrations?
 

 

3. Based on sulfate ion concentration peaks, when does spring seem to occur? Based on sodium and chloride ion concentration peaks, when does winter seem to occur? In what months do each of these seasons occur in the Southern Hemisphere?
 

 


Let's Get to the Core of It! - Teacher Answer Key

1. What year does it appear that the volcanic sulfate from the unknown 1808-1809 volcano eruption arrived in Antarctica?

The volcanic sulfate from the unknown 1808-1809 eruption arrived in 1810-1811, as evidenced by the second set of elevated sulfate levels


2. Look at your graph. What patterns, if any, do you see among the sodium, chloride, and sulfate ion concentrations?

Sodium and chloride concentrations correspond closely because they come from the same source -- seawater. Elevated chloride concentrations during the volcanic events are likely a result of hydrogen chloride released during a volcanic eruption. Slightly elevated chloride concentrations in the non-volcanic years (1812 to 1816 and again in 1820) may be due to higher atmospheric hydrogen chloride that is present during summer months.

3. Based on sulfate ion concentration peaks, when does spring seem to occur? Based on sodium and chloride ion concentration peaks, when does winter seem to occur? In what months do each of these seasons occur in the Southern Hemisphere?

Peaks for winter and spring can be seen each year with peaks in sulfate (spring/summer) and sodium chloride (winter/spring); sometimes the seasons appear concurrently in the ice core because there is not a high enough sampling resolution. Southern Hemisphere winter occurs from June to August; spring occurs from December to February. Core dating is not an exact science; the estimates given are plus or minus one year. The total range for this data set is 1811-1821.
 

Let's Get to the Core of It! Graphing Activity

This activity was adapted from NOVA Activity Mountain of Ice

The U.S. International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) to Antarctica drilled into the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collect ice cores for data on past sulfate, sodium, and chloride ion concentrations. You will be analyzing some of the actual data that U.S. ITASE scientists obtained. The data will eventually be used to help understand global climate change.

Materials:

  • copy of the "Ice Core Data" student handout
  • two copies of graph paper
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • three different-colored pencils
     

Procedure:

  • Cut along the dotted lines of one of your blank graphs and line it up with the other one so that the bottom dark line of the graph you cut out and the top dark line of the other graph overlap. Tape the graphs together.
  • Label the dark vertical lines on both edges of the graphs in 50-degree increments (50, 100, etc.) up to the top dark line, which will be 800.
  • Use the Ice Core Data and Graphing Ice Core Data activity sheets to graph the data for all three chemicals (sulfate ion-SO42-, sodium ion-Na+, and chloride ion-Cl-) using a different colored pencil for each chemical. Make sure you start with the top-most depth, 37.270 meters, and begin graphing at the left-most point on your graphs. Round off each data point to the nearest whole number before you graph it.
  • When you have graphed your data, read the Chemicals in the Ice information on the Ice Core Data activity sheet. Use this information to label your graphs with estimated years (represented by the dark lines extending beyond the bottom line of the graph) or seasons within the years. Note that the years do not fall at exactly spaced intervals because some years have more data points than others.
  • After estimating seasons and years, report your results to the class.
     

Questions
Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper.

  1. What years do you think this data set spans? How did you determine these years?

     
  2. What year does it appear that the volcanic sulfate from the unknown 1808-1809 volcano eruption arrived in Antarctica?

     
  3. Look at your graph. What patterns, if any, do you see among the sodium, chloride, and sulfate ion concentrations?

     
  4. Based on sulfate ion concentration peaks, when does spring seem to occur? Based on sodium and chloride ion concentration peaks, when does winter seem to occur? In what months do each of these seasons occur in the Southern Hemisphere?
     

Sulfate (SO42)
The sulfate ion has several sources in this Antarctic ice core. The most important of these are marine biological processes and volcanic activity.

  • The sulfate ion produced by marine phytoplankton peaks in the spring. After the dark winter, the hours of daylight lengthen and the sea ice begins to melt and break up. This open ocean environment is ideal for marine phytoplankton growth. As the phytoplankton grow, they release sulfate-rich chemicals into the atmosphere, which in turn get transported by winds over the ice sheet.
  • Another source of sulfate is volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes can spew millions of tons of sulfate into the atmosphere and concentrations can remain high for several years following a large volcanic eruption.
  • The Tambora volcano in Sumbawa, Indonesia, erupted in 1815; acid from that event is believed to have settled in Antarctic ice about 1816-1817. Another unknown volcano erupted in late 1808 or early 1809.
     

Sodium (Na+) and Chloride (Cl-)
In this Antarctic ice core:

  • Most of the sodium and chloride ion concentrations come from the ocean in the form of sea salt (NaCl).
  • Sodium also has a terrestrial dust source but this only contributes a minute percentage in this core.
  • Chlorine can be given off by volcanic eruptions in the form of hydrochloric acid (HCl).
  • Sodium and chloride ion concentrations usually peak in the winter-spring season; during the winter-spring months the Antarctic wind strength increases and whips the ocean into foam and transports more sea salt ions inland. If many storms occur during a single season there can be several peaks superimposed upon one another.
     

Ice Core Data
icecoredata02

parts per billion (micrograms per liter)

icecoredata_cont02

parts per billion (micrograms per liter)

 

Let's Get to the Core of It! Graphing Activity
Names _________________________, ___________________________
 

graphinggrid02

Let's Get to the Core of It! Graphing Activity
graphinggrid_cont02


Let's Get to the Core of It! Additional Information

daytwo_adidtioninfo02
 *dates are plus or minus one year

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