Classroom/Laboratory Activity: Permafrost and Climate Change

A set of hands-on classroom and computer-based activities for students to learn about permafrost and to explore various web-based scientific data portals to investigate permafrost distribution, characteristics of permafrost, and the effects of thawing permafrost on the atmosphere and the environment.

Note: The plan includes 3-4 activities; one or more of these activities can be conducted. The time required for each activity is specified in the summary table of the laboratory plan.

Students will be able to investigate permafrost characteristics, understand borehole data, identify the trends in the data observed and find a correlation between atmospheric methane data and permafrost thawing data.

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. What changes have been observed in permafrost characteristics in recent times?
  2. What are the possible impacts of permafrost thawing on the Earth’s climate?

About the Tool

Tool Name Changing Planet: Permafrost Gas Leak
Discipline Geography, Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Permafrost, Methane, Thawing of Permafrost, Global Warming, Methanogens, Greenhouse Gases, Emissions, Active Layer of Soil
Climate Topic Climate and the Cryosphere, The Greenhouse Effect
Type of Tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity
Grade Level High school
Location Global
Language English
Developed by Missy Holzer, Jennifer Bergman, and Roberta Johnson, Windows to the Universe team members from the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA)
Hosted at Windows to the Universe, NESTA
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic



Image: Permafrost and ice in Herschel Island, Canada, 2012
By Boris Radosavljevic ( )

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