“How Have Glaciers Behaved in Patagonia in the Past?” with Michael Kaplan (Oct 2014)

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Climate Change, Paleoclimatology, Polar Research

Originally presented 25 October 2014


Patagonia contains the largest amount of glacier ice in the Southern Hemisphere outside Antarctica. Historical records show that the Patagonian Ice Fields are some of the fastest disappearing, large ice masses in the Southern Hemisphere. The reason is that Patagonian glaciers are particularly sensitive to climate and increasing temperature. As geologists, we can ask the question, what is the natural variability of the glaciers in Patagonia before human effects? In other words, what did they do before the 20th century? The group I am part of here at LDEO uses detailed landform mapping and cosmogenic surface exposure and carbon-14 geologic dating methods to study how glaciers have behaved in the past. Specifically, we want to know how glaciers have changed since the end of the last Ice Age. We are also trying to link this information to other types of geologic records of former climate change such as from the oceans and Polar ice cores at higher latitudes, to look for similarities and differences in time and space.

Connections NGSS: MS-ESS2-2, ESS2-6, ESS3-2, ESS3-5; HS-ESS2-2, ESS2-4, EES2-5, ESS3-5; MS-ETS1-3; HS-ETS1-3, ETS1-4

Introductory slideshow (Dr. Passow): 

 How Have Glaciers Behaved in Patagonia (pptx)
How Have Glaciers Behaved in Patagonia (pdf)

Dr. Kaplan’s presentation will be posted after the Workshop.

Dr. Michael Kaplan returns to E2C with a follow-up from his October 2013 program about “Shrinking Glaciers: A Chronology of Climate Change.” Mike is an Associate Research Scientist with the Cosmogenic Dating Group at LDEO (Joerg Schaefer, Director.)  They have developed terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide techniques and applied these as chronometers and tracers in the Earth Sciences. Terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides are produced by interactions between secondary cosmic rays and near surface rocks. Their research interests cover a wide spectrum of earth scientific disciplines and include timing of ice ages, subglacial erosion rates, uplift rates of Pleistocene terraces, and a better understanding of the production systematics of cosmogenic nuclides. They apply the full spectrum of cosmogenic nuclides, including the routine extraction of 10Be, 26Al, and36Cl. In cooperation with Gisela Winkler and the LDEO Noble Gas Group, they also measure cosmogenic 3He and other isotopes. 

Dr. Kaplan’s previous E2C Workshop: “Shrinking Glaciers: A Chronology of Climate Change” (Oct 2013)

Research accomplished by this group was spotlighted in July 2012 American Museum of Natural History “Science Bulletin”

[You can see other AMNH Science Bulletins at http://www.amnh.org/explore/science-bulletins.]

News stories about the Cosmogenic Nuclide Group’s research:

In High Sierras, Remnants of Ice Age Tell a Tale of Future ClimateAMNH Science Bulletin: Shrinking Glaciers–A Chronology of Climate Change (Video) 
Photo Essay: Sculpting Tropical PeaksWaiting for Death Valley’s Big Bang 
Swiss glacier finely-tuned to climate changes Study adds new clue to how Last Ice Age ended  
Glaciers have moved together in far-flung regions

Related scientific resources

Cosmogenic nuclide datingGlacier advance in southern middle-latitudes during the Antarctic Cold Reversal  
Glacier retreat in New Zealand during the Younger Dryas stadial The Last Glacial Termination
GNS ScienceUniversity of Maine: Department of Earth Sciences 

Related Educational Resources

“Glaciers in New York Field Exercise” by Elizabeth Cottrell“National Park Service: Glaciers”
On the Cutting Edge (SERC): Glacial Physics“NOVA: Escape in Thin Air
“Where to Find Glaciers in the Southern Hemisphere”“GlacierHub” (research/communities near glaciers/impact of retreats)

Suggested Curriculum & Lab Activities                   

Model of Radioactive Decay (Penny Lab)“Nuclear Energy: Nuclear Decay” (Environmental Science Activities for the 21st Century)
“Radioactive Half-Life and Dating Techniques” (Teacher Experiences in Antarctica)“How does radioactive decay work?” (SERC)
“Introduction to radiometric dating” (SERC/Cutting Edge)

Integrating Educational Technologies

General suggestions: Integrating Educational Technologies into Your Classrooms

Your assignment:

1) What characteristics make science videos, such as the AMNH Science Bulletins, effective as a classroom teaching tool?

2) When should science video-based activities be used for full-class instruction, and when should they be used for small groups or individual projects?

3) Describe strategies to locate suitable  for your classes.


4) Design a lesson plan that incorporates at least one science video-based activity.

E2C Follow-up:

You may send your model lesson and other responses to this “assignment” to michael@earth2class.org. If suitable, we will post your work in the E2C lesson plans and/or add them to this section of the Workshop website.