Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download and Share
Sheldon Bart
Michael J. Passow
PDF attached
Earth Science


Wilderness Research Foundation (USA) has developed two teaching modules based on a project we conducted in the Antarctic Peninsula in January 2010. They're available free for any educator interested in reviewing them for classroom use. The project concerned the collection of soil samples for the potential corroboration of a new conception of the carbon cycle. The principal investigator was Dr. Ning Zeng, an associate professor of meteorology at the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center of the University of Maryland.

Big Ideas

  1. Plants store energy in organic molecules, and this energy is released when the plants decompose (or are eaten).
  2. Organic matter can be covered as glaciers advance and re-exposed when they retreat, this preserving organic matter from decomposition for vast time periods.
  3. When organic matter is re-exposed after deglaciation, release of carbon dioxide during decomposition can add to Earth's greenhouse gasses. This is something called "buried carbon hypothesis."
  4. Burial of organic matter during glaciation and re-exposure during glacial retreat form marts of "feedback loops" that influence climate patterns.


Wilderness Research Foundation
King George Island Expedition Educational Activities Series. Written by Michael J. Passow, Ed.D.

Attachment Size
Download Activity File (PDF - 3MB)3.36 MB 3.36 MB

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.