Workshops and Institutes
GRACE: Tracking Water From Space
June 30, 2012
GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) is a NASA mission that uses a pair of satellites to measure Earth's gravitational field. By regularly measuring changes in the gravitational field, scientists can indirectly track the motions of large masses of water. The GRACE satellites began orbiting in March 2002. They orbit once every 90 minutes, taking 30 days to cover the entire Earth. Since the movement of water can be detected on this time scale, GRACE's ever-growing data set is revealing long-term changes in Earth's water and its relationship to changing climate.
Scientists are just beginning to analyze the data that GRACE has gathered, but climate change unfolds over decades, centuries and millennia. Scientists need three to five decades of this kind of information to truly understand the behavior of Earth's water. While GRACE's satellites probably won't last that long, climate scientists hope the mission's successors will keep the water data flowing. This information will become ever more critical to the world's growing population as climate change continues.
The workshop provides strategies for how to use data visualizations and data sets from secondary research. Teachers will examine satellite data from GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) for Greenland and Antarctica to better understand the impact of climate change on ice sheets. Teachers will engage in activities to increase their ability to teach about climate change and use GRACE data with their students.
The resources linked below are designed to support middle and high school science teachers' use of GRACE data in the classroom.
Science Bulletins Feature Video
Antarctica and Greenland
Central Valley (California)
Lena Basin (Russia)
Support for these resources is provided by NASA under Award No.NNX09AL93G.