“The Buried Carbon Hypothesis and Future Climate Change” with Ning Zeng (University of Maryland/Wilderness Research Foundation) (Dec 2011)

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Climate Change

Originally presented 3 Dec 2011

When glaciers advance, they bury vegetation and organic matter in the soil. When they recede and the materials are re-exposed, they decompose as carbon dioxide and add to the greenhouse gases. Dr. Ning Zeng has proposed the “buried carbon” theory to explain the impact of this process on the global carbon cycle.
With support from the Wilderness Research Foundation (WRF), in January 2010, Dr. Zeng,  research assistant Dr. Jay Gregg, and Sheldon Bart, President and Founder of WRF mounted an expedition test the “buried carbon” theory. They traveled to King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, off the Antarctic Peninsula. They collected samples of organic matter at the foot of the receding Collins Glacier, and later analyzed and carbon-dated them.
Dr. Zeng and Mr. Bart will describe the expedition and results. Then, participants will pilot test several curricular activities based on this research, developed by Dr. Michael J. Passow of E2C. Such collaboration between researchers supported by a nonprofit foundation and classroom teachers marks an advance in bringing authentic science “from the end of the Earth to your classroom.”

Wilderness Research Foundation

Introduction to this Workshop

     This E2C workshop is special in bringing for the first time a guest scientist from somewhere other than Lamont-Doherty. I’ve been planning this program with the Wilderness Research Foundation for about two years.

View the introductory slide show.

Cutting-Edge Research

Wilderness Research Foundation
Bringing Authentic Science from
the Ends of the Earth to the Classroom

Wilderness Research Foundation
Wilderness Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) based in the New York metropolitan area and run by a small group of volunteers. We receive no salaries or compensation of any kind. One hundred percent of the funds we raise is devoted to putting our expeditions in the field and developing expedition-based teaching material for educators.

Sheldon Bart: “Antarctic Peninsula Journal” (published in The Polar Times, v. 3, no. 19, pp. 3-4, July 2011

Ning Zeng: “Antarctic Peninsula Project Report”

Ning Zeng: “The Long-Lasting Mystery of the Glacial-interglacial Cycles: The Role of Carbon-Climate-Ice Sheet Interaction”

Ning Zeng: “The Global Carbon Cycle: Carbon Cycle Processes”

Ning Zeng and Zicheng Yu: “Glacial Burial and Decomposition of Ancient Organic Carbon: A Scientific Expedition to King George Island, Antarctica–Results from Carbon Dating”

**Sheldon Bart’s Blogs from the Antarctic Peninsula Project**
     Sheldon Bart (WRF President and manager for the Antarctic Peninsula Project) has posted this series of blogs about the trip.

Classroom Resources

Wilderness Research Foundation supported development of the following educational materials by Dr. Michael J Passow:

Where In the World Is King George Island?

Photosynthesis, Decomposition, and the Buried Carbon Hypothesis

Using the LI-COR 8100 to Study Buried Carbon

Selected ANDRILL educational activities:

1. Antarctica’s Climate Secrets–http://www.andrill.org/flexhibit/flexhibit/materials/activities/index.html

2. Environmental Literacy Framework activity book–finished activities:www.andrill.org/education/elf
(projected completion date: January, 2012)

–draft activities: http://andrill.org/education/c2s2/Welcome.html(click on ELF Activity Book in nav bar)

3. Core images and data sets: http://coreref.org

4. Ice shelf animation: www.andrill.org/education

Selected “Our Changing Planet” videos
(The National Earth Science Teachers Association and Windows to the Universe are working together with NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation to explore the impact that climate change is having on our planet. The resources below provide links to videos developed by NBC Learn on twelve key indicators of climate change, as well as lesson plans for teachers to use to explore the science behind these indicators with their students at the secondary level.)

Melting Glaciers

Thawing Permafront

Fresh Water in the Arctic

Additional resources

“GlacierHub” (research/communities near glaciers/impact of retreats)

Integrating Educational Technologies

General suggestions: Integrating Educational Technologies into Your Classrooms

Your assignment:

1) What characteristics make iPads effective as a classroom teaching tool?

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

3) Describe strategies to locate suitable iPad apps for your classes.


4) Design a lesson plan that incorporates at least one iPad app.

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.