Monday, December 27, 2010

Final project

I have been debating which project to post here...

I will do them all eventually...

  • Try to create an algorithm to predict the ice going out on the Nenana.
  • Set up time laps photography and a feature study of the Mendenhall glacier. (like EIS)
  • A service learning project to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Weather and Climate change in Juneau over last 75 years based on local photos and info.
all will involve cultural connections in some way...

I think we will look at the change in weather and retreat of Mendenhall Glacier using as many photos as we can collected from our families and friends in Juneau.  Any weather related photos will help in this project.

US forest service photo

We will also gather weather information from as many sources as possible next week in the computer lab and chart the average monthly temperatures for as far back as we can find data.

I saw David Katzeek this week and will invite him to speak to our class and share his memories of the weather in Juneau.  Hopefully he can also provide some other cultural resources to help us do a good job on the project.

My students seemed to be most interested when we talked about Juneau, so we will use their family resources to work on this together.  Any old photos and info of how it use to be in Juneau will be welcome.

Handtrollers 5/28/08

Mendenhall lake 2/3/10

The students will scan the photos they bring to school or email them from home.  We will set up a digital library of all the pictures and captions to go with them, interview people who have lived in Juneau a long time and record their observations and stories.

We will create a blog and otherwise share the info when we are done about how the weather use to be....

Like all good projects the students will do most of the work.... :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Module 9 - getting sidetracked toward the end....

I hesitate to call permafrost melting cool, however, the release of methane gas that had been stored safely in the permafrost is now being released and as Clay has pointed out; with a bic can be kinda fun....

As I started through this module I got totally sidetracked on methane gas burning over frozen lakes and thermite explosions when Ice is involved... even Mythbusters confirmed it but could not explain the explosion!

I also learned about the extent of the Tlingit land and how they were forced out of Glacier Bay by advancing ice.

Glacier bay: Nasa

I learned The Taku Glacier had a positive mass balance from 1946 until 1988 and may begin to retreat if current trends continue.

Taku Glacier by susan dain-owens 2007
Ablation: The annual loss of snow and ice from a glacier.  The opposite of which is accumulation.

Gulkana glacier: a canary in the coal mine of global warming...

A 50-year government study found that the world's glaciers are melting at a rapid and alarming rate. The ongoing study is the latest in a series of reports that found glaciers worldwide are melting faster than anyone had predicted they would just a few years ago.

If all the terrestrial ice melted sea level could increase 80 m. As shown in this interactive resource from NOVA.  If the ice melts.


I showed many of the videos from this weeks module!  As we wrap up our unit on Climate and Weather, we have explored many factors that play a role in Global warming.  I have tried to balance the natural and man made sources that many scientist believe have lead to an increased rate of global warming.

The video on climate change was especially interesting to my class as it showed these changes can happen within ones lifetime..... not only slowly leaving time to adapt.

USGS photo
Washington’s South Cascade glacier has lost half its volume since 1960 and is predicted to lose an additional half in the next 100 years.

We also covered agian the Carbon Cycle and students decided the greatest impact would be to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use by replacing oil and coal burning with Tidal, Wave, Wind and Solar Power!


We also discussed possible changes here in Juneau if global warming continues, some student responses are listed here:
  • less snow for skiing
  • nicer springs and summers
  • better growing seasons for plants
  • bigger deer racks

After watching the video on climate change and how it can happen so fast we also talked  about what if it got cold again...fitting for the last few weeks.

  • more snow for skiing
  • longer, colder winters
  • advancing glaciers may force people to move (mendenhall)
  • harder for animals to survive (less vegitation)

Wow Dan, your done! I too marvel at the accomplishments of early navigators like Vancouver just to survive the obstacles in SE Alaska waters.  Of course the Tlingit did it long before them all....

Dave, when I look at the graph from "climate change" I see us in a pretty long, "stable", temperature range when compared to before 8,000 BC.

Doug, I also liked the timing of this modul with all the great info. on glaciers for my class to view!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Module 8

Cryosphere: all of Earth's surface where water is in solid form.  When I first read that word I wondered if I had studied it before....or if it was a sub-category of the Troposhere or something I had forgotten.  I'm not sure if I have studied it or not but, I've got it stored now!

from the national snow and ice data center

oceanlandice sheetsnowsea ice
(low concentration to high concentration)

The colors of the sea ice scale show up in my unpublished blog.... but not here?

I also learned about the permafrost melting around Alaska and how those who depend on the permafrost and sea ice to hunt and live are facing increasing challenges.  Houses sinking and cliffs sluffing as permafrost melts, whale hunting from ice that breaks off and floats away stranding the hunters are two examples I learned of in this module.

BBC shows Siberian sub-arctic tundra melting.

The whole western Siberian sub-Arctic region has started to thaw
Extend and Explore

It has been such a timely unit of study lately!  We have been discovering weather and climate in my science classes the last month or so.  I have shown many of the videos and interactive pictures have been great! 

To talk about the science behind natural global temperature fluctuations vs mans influence over the last 100 years and then show the Arctic Sea Ice Satellite Observations has really created some good discussions.

Follow that with a videos on melting permafrost and arctic climate perspectives, which puts a face on global warming impacting our Alaskan neighbors, and you have made a cultural connections for 7th graders!  Cool!

I filled the cup of ice with water and tried to record the temp.  I only had a digital therm. available for fevers...I did not get any, out of range I assume cause you'd be dead.

I also think I added to much ice, cause it did over flow a bit....

I will try it again at school with the class.


I liked Konrad's pictures of the receding portage glacier.

I also enjoyed Dan's link to the formation and evolution of earth.  I support the theory as the best one yet but, am not sold we have it all correct....maybe in another 100 years...  ;-)

I checked in on James and can empathise with how busy he must be.  I hope to experience the EAC from Nemo myself someday!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Module 7, Climate change??


The ability of cyanobacteria to perform oxygenic photosynthesis is thought to have enabled biodiversity and let oxygen dependant organisms thrive.  The opening scenes from "Life before Oxygen" from Teachers Domain were just like the poster on the wall of Mr. Pointer and similar to this:

From Geo 130, U of Florida
 Stromatolites are produced by microbial assemblages, mostly dominated by blue-green algae, but the stromatolite is really a sedimentary deposit. In effect, they are trace fossils produced by the sediment-trapping character of the microbial mat. In my own teaching manuals I list stromatolites under Trace Fossils. If you want to indicate them as the products of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), then list it under Kingdom Monera (for prokaryote microbes).
Dr. Tom E. Yancey

In the video "Soil Microbes and Global Warming" I learned the the very area we feel is most susceptible to Global Warming may be itself a leading contributor to Green house gases! Another great example of how all things are connected.

After learning about the creation of all elements withing stars again I gave pause.  Super Nova
Starting with hydrogen and helium using fusion to create all elements through Iron, then explode the star to create the rest.... wow!

From the BBC a supernovae in real time


While a student at Tumwater High I remember listening to Mr. Pointer and his rants on blue-green algae! (Cyanobacteria) "Do you realize you owe your life to bacteria", he would say. His enthusiasm was laughable at the time for young cool teenagers like myself...  Not long after doing my student teaching in Tumwater, I thanked him.  He didn't pay for a drink all night..... :-) And he swears his next fishing trip is to Juneau!

We are currently studying weather and climate in my class at F.D.  The last few modules have been great but, this one seems a little out of the range, for now. The question of how deep to go is a constant struggle. Every video reminds me of a months worth of study in college.  What do I share, what do I explore, what do I want them to learn, when do I just let it go and leave it for the next teacher....? My Principal gives me the impression that if it is on the SBA's then teach it, if not, touch on it and move on. (I will refrain from bashing standardized testing)

Is climate changing? Some things I know for sure:
  • As I have looked out at mendenhall glacier since I move here in 1992, it has retreated.
  • I took this photo today, that rock face on the left is somewhat is my lovely wife! :-)
  • Growing up I once drove my motorcycle across Black Lake in the winter to my buddies house, It hasn't frozen like that since I was 16.
  • My brother built an 8 foot snowman in the road when I was a kid and the police stuck a flare in it and the Daily Olympian took a picture, now Tumwater struggles to get snow that lasts at all.
  • I sat in the sun in shorts just over 2 months ago.  (okay, maybe El nino...)
  • Watch the video of the Inuit people of Sachs Harbour


This module has so many great resources it is hard to imagine using even half of them. The carbon cycle is not as well known as the water or rock cycle but stay tuned.......

I have tried to secure compute lab time to share some of these but have run into trouble with the district and it's YouTube and internet policies so I just download them and show them from my PC.

The very idea if capturing and storing CO2 is amazing: store it here?


Konrad here are a couple links to help clear up the carbon cycle: or carbon cycle 2

Carbon cycle

Others coming soon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Module VI The Atmosphere and us


I have learned the Arctic air and mammals are bearing the brunt of the pollution created thousands of miles away by industrialized nations who have lax or no environmental laws to impede the worlds greatest nations from getting things made cheap!


This pollution is in turn being passed on to the people who eat the mammals at the top of the food chain.  If they were to merely eat the fish or lower animals in the food chain they would be better off, however, that is not their way of life. 

Seal fat from Google images,

It is the fat in these arctic mammals that store the toxins that have accumulated where the sun is not available to warm the air and cause the circulation that occurs in the lower latitudes.

In a study from the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. An ice core from Greenland shows a continuous record of the monthly deposition of thallium, cadmium and lead from 1772 forward.  All three metal levels soar between 1850 and 1900 only to escalate 10 fold again in the early 20th century until the great depression curbed industry.  By the 1970's all three metals were decreasing as clean air laws are adopted in the U.S. and parts of Europe.

From Science Daily

As China, India and the rest of Asia work to control emissions there is some hope these and other pollutants can continue to be eliminated from all of the worlds air and food....

Extend and Evaluate

It is truly ironic that the same harsh, cold weather conditions that keep the arctic isolated from most humans also trap the pollution of the densely populated warm climate areas of the world.  The arctic haze...


The images below in Google earth show what looks like a tropical depression or storm building over Puerto Rico.  It is hard to tell without wind speeds....I don't know how to view the date of these shots.

As I look at the cool models of the atmosphere and wish I had these at the beginning of this year when I was teaching Atmosphere, I smile and recall my drawings on the white  Using many colors and taking great care to make things clear when I could have just gone to the computer lab...however, taking good notes also helps students so a mix of the two is what I will use in the future.

I think I will go back and revisit some of the topics I have finished using these resources and call it a Mid-Semester review...

I am a little confused at the wind charts with the increase in Latitude.  It shows little wind at the equator....The Doldrums as I expected.  At 30 degrees though it shows a constant increase in wind speed.  My question is what about the horse latitude calm zone from the high pressure in the Hadley and Ferrel cells?

Picture from Wikipedia:

It is so cool to be back in science....I like getting side tracked while talking to students about "things they have heard" or things that don't make sense.... like; if warm air rises, why is it cold on mountains...?? :-)

It is sometimes difficult to secure time in the computer labs as more and more classes utilize this vast resource.  The more I learn in classes like this the more I realize I must use the Internet more to give my students the best education I can, especially in science!  These videos and pictures from sites like Teachers Domain truly bring to "life" the topics we cover and foster better understanding...

My classmates:

Amy and I both learned about Ben F. mapping out the gulf stream and will use the videos in this section soon.

In Sandi's blog she models the kind of organization I think my blog is lacking.  I will try to adopt her layout skills.....

I'm glad Nick dispels the myth of total darkness in Barrow.  Nice pic, like most of you I too enjoy taking in "the moment" and appreciating the amazing things around us daily.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Module V and Ocean connections

Thermohaline circulation was a great flash from the past.  Very cold water that is very salty sinking from the poles and starting the great ocean current conveyor.  The cold dense water moves very slow and can take over 1600 years to complete the circulation with only the last tenth being in the warm surface current.

  This type of convection cell fuels many systems on our planet, including our weather, fueled by the large amounts of warm moist air rising near the equator and cooler air sinking around 30 degrees north.  Until writing this blog I thought warm air had the ability to "hold" more water vapor than cold air, In the search for the truth I found this: Water Vapor Myths and this: Bad Clouds you decide.... I will spend more time on this later.

Expand and Explore

As I explore Ocean temperatures I am amazed at my findings.  The surface temperatures below are from today Nov. 9, 2010.  My class just studied Hurricanes and Typhoons where surface temp. to build a good storm must exceed 81 degrees F, plenty of opportunity out there.....

The average ocean temp. from "Save the Sea" stated 39 degrees F or 2 degrees C.  That didn't make sense to me until I thought about the oceans being so deep (average depth is 12,200 ft.) 

The video from TD about Warmer Oceans Affect Food Web attributes the decline in some sea animals to declines in forage fish species such as herring and sand lance.  These declines are partially attributed to warming oceans and the effects may be just beginning.  According to the Ocean Facts on 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food. And this number is suppose to grow rapidly! 

The indigenous people of Alaska have already noticed a huge decline in the availability of food from the sea and waters here in Alaska. As the ocean warms, pollution increases, over harvesting continues and more people become dependant on the Oceans for their food, something has to give. 

Unfortunately it will most likely be the people who need the ocean to survive who will be hurt the most. Around the world, impoverished people with little or no political voice and no corporate connections will have to make do with what is left after the major ocean harvesting corporations are done making a profit. 

My wife's family lives in the fishing port of Roxas City, Philippines and have felt first hand the effects of declining fish populations that once sustained their entire existence.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Good points of classmates

Matt does a great job discussing S & P waves! The importance of early warning is critical especially with the threat of Tsunamis!

Like Konrad I enjoyed the google earth section of this module.  I wanted to post a cool under water view I found but it kept mixing up my entire blog....?

Nick brings up a huge concern of barrow and many others....the vanishing sea ice!