Snow and Ice -- From Students
When the snow is deep in the field, and the ice is thick on the lake, it's time to dig snow pits and make ice cores. Ice cores show how the weather conditions over the past weeks or months have affected the ice. If students have been recording weather data daily, they will have a history of weather conditions for that time. Students should continue to monitor the air temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction, and the cloud types. If they haven't measured these data before, procedures for making basic weather observations are available in the From Students component of Weather Watch. When snow in a snowpit or the ice in an ice core is examined, students should see layers. Have students identify the relationship between basic weather data (such as air temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction, and cloud types) and the layers in the snowpack and ice cores. Have them also explain how layers in snowpacks and ice cores help us understand climate and climate change.
In this component, students will conduct two investigations.
Have students dig a snowpit and analyze the layers. It is suggested that you divide your students into teams of four groups. Group one will dig the snowpit. Group two will measure and record basic weather data. Group three will make a map of the area around the snowpit. Group group four will complete the Snow Pit Field Data sheet.
Students analyze an ice core that you provide. For safety reasons, students should not make their own ice core or be in close proximity while an ice core is being made. Instructions for safely cutting or obtaining an ice core are in the Appendix to the Ice Core Procedures provided in the Student Activities box above. Instructions for making a simulated ice core are also in the Appendix.