Drill Baby Drill? Melt Baby Melt?
battle cry of “Drill
baby drill” made
you cringe or
shout, it highlights
energy is not
sustainable by our
How to address
this issue is
perhaps the most
critical question of
our times. It links
us to the world
world politics. It illustrates inescapably that we are part of a one world with finite resources
and interwoven earth systems.
As the globe warms, the glaciers melt, the weather
becomes erratic, the artic has seen the higher than average
warming. The arctic, which is a target for drilling, is also
a target for the effects of carbon in our atmosphere. The
temperatures there have been rising as much as 4 times
faster than average in the artic. The problems this creates
are specific to the region but will be felt worldwide. The
permafrost is melting!
As permafrost melts Methane escapes from the lakes and
bogs. Is this a boom or bust? Methane is a fuel source.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Watch “Hunting for methane with
Dr. Katey Walter Anthony”
All this Methane could be a boon for energy companies. Is there a way to capture the
methane that is being produced? Methane gas is a powerful greenhouse gas. If we burn it
and release carbon dioxide is that a step in the right direction? What are the local and
global effects of this permafrost melting?!?
Your goal through analysis, research and collaboration is to create a report about the local
and global phenomenon of Permafrost melt to give to congress. Where is there permafrost
melting? And in what kind of biome? What are the case and effects? How might it effect
power companies? Is this a good source of Methane? Is the biome where harvesting or
drilling happening put at further risk by permafrost melt?
Here are the 6 steps to follow:
Read the entire description of the project including the rubric before beginning
One: Brainstorm. Using the event of Permafrost melt, every person should first write an
ESSA including all the event to sphere connections, sphere to event, sphere to sphere
connections, and causal chains. As you go, create a list of things you need to know or
questions that you have.
Two: Collaborate by brainstorming with your teammates. Do this by sharing your lists with
each other. Choose a note-taker and a question-writer. Give a written version of your
brainstorm to the note-taker and keep one for yourself. Share you understanding through
discussion. How does your ESS analysis compare to others? Try to answer others questions
as a group. As you go have the question-writer keep a list of questions the group needs to
research. (Hand a copy of this in.)
Three: Research by dividing up the research questions between teammates. Research by
using the resources given in this document or from trusted sites. Answer the questions as
fully as you can. Site your information as you go. Put your significant sites on delicious for
your team members to use
Four: Collaborate more by sharing your research and deciding what points and information
need to be included in your Presentation. Create a list of questions that the group still has
that may be extension questions. Reevaluate your group list of connections and chains.
Add our new understanding.
Five: Create a Presentation that describes your scientific understanding of permafrost melt,
and the effects of interconnectedness of the ES systems. Include what you have learned
about atmospheric gases and the greenhouse effect, deposited of methane and the land
where it resides. Include the significance of permafrost melt on human structures and
liveliness. Make sure that you use images, charts and /or graphs to help your explanation
and hold interest. Also, create a bulleted list of the important information you are including.
Share this list with your instructor and the other groups to get feedback to prepare
yourselves for the presentation. Give feedback to other groups on their lists. Revise your
Presentaion if needed.
Six: Present it to “Congress” (This may include parents, school staff and students.) Ask
your Audience for feedback. Do they understand your list of important points or issues?
Do they understand that this is a global problem with global solutions? What are some of
the action steps they think their governments might take to contribute to the solution of this
“Source characterization and temporal variation of methane seepage from thermokarst lakes
on the Alaska North Slope in response to Arctic climate change” is the stated purpose of the
project at this site. Predicted changes in thickness of active layer (the soil above permafrost
that melts each year in the summer sun) by 2050 (from Anisimov et al., 1997) under some
global warming scenarios. The Alaskan North Slope is expected to experience some of the
most profound changes in permafrost conditions
Methane (CH4) is formed and released into the atmosphere by biologic processes. Methane
is a greenhouse gas that will absorbs infrared radiation causing an increase in global
Locally, there are feedback mechanisms that show that melt yields increased melt. Related
specifically to methane release, the release of the gas thins the winter ice above a seep area
on a thermokarst lake. E> G> H http://www.gi.alaska.edu/snowice/Permafrost-lab/projects/
How Does Climate Change Influence Alaska's Vegetation?: Insights from the Fossil Record
“Plant fossils, such as leaves, wood, cones, pollen, and seeds, provide important evidence of
how Alaska's vegetation has responded to climate changes over time periods of centuries to
millions of years. Long-term trends of global temperatures have been reconstructed…”
U.S. Arctic Research Commission Permafrost Task Force (2003) Climate Change,
Permafrost, and Impacts on Civil Infrastructure. Special Report 01-03, U.S. Arctic
Research Commission, Arlington, Virginia
Global Terrestrial Observing system report link on Permafrost and seasonally-frozen ground
page report. The link for the report, documentation and other material have been compiled