This unit, created through the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI), helps students learn about each component of the energy budget formula and how the contribution of each component changes based on the location and the time of the year.
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The radar measurements made by NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory are sensitive to whether land surfaces are frozen or thawed. Students analyze two maps of SMAP data to make inferences about changes to the Arctic's Geosphere showing spring thaw.
The Eyjabakkajökull Glacier is an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland that has been retreating since a major surge occurred in 1973. Students analyze these maps to identify the scale, rate of change, and volume affected by the glacier retreat.