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Students make a model of annual ice layers in an ice core, compare physical snow properties against chemical hydrogen peroxide data as methods of dating cores, then graph and analyze historic sulfur data to figure out what might have influenced the climate during the Year Without a Summer.

Key Concepts: Physical properties of snowflakes vary depending on the temperature and humidity when the snow falls. Observable differences in ice core layers formed from the snow provide evidence of the climate at the time. Global circulation patterns impact the distribution of particulates and chemicals that get embedded in the ice. Scientists can analyze these indicators for more clues to climate history.

 Target Grade Levels: Middle and High School

 Background: This activity is based on known historic events, most probably caused by several volcanic eruptions, including 1783’s Laki event in Iceland, an “unknown” in 1810 and the huge eruption at Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815. The repercussions on human behaviors and culture during this period of history were widespread.

 

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