ae.01 Ice Ice Baby


  • Statement of inquiry
    • Scientific and technical innovators need to understand how power affects the processes that occur within systems.
  • Factual questions [Remembering facts and topics]
    • How do alpine glaciers gain and lose mass?
  • Conceptual questions [Analysing big ideas]
    • How is a glacier a system?
  • Debatable questions [Evaluating perspectives and developing theories]
    • Alpine environments have a great and valuable beauty.
  • Aims of this lesson
    • To explore alpine environments as natural wonders within extreme environments.
    • To understand that glaciers are physical systems within extreme environments.
    • To have knowledge and understanding of how snow changes over time to become glacier ice - as a process within a system.

Base knowledge and understanding

Video clip

[11 December 2017]

Edpuzzle version available.


Glacier distribution in Europe
Glacier distribution in Europe. [Source]


Geo tool

The awe and wonder of alpine environments

Use Earth for web to explore the following:

  • The longest glacier in Europe.
  • Evidence of the glacial maximum of the Mer de Glace.
  • A glacier you can ski on in Europe.
  • The Trift Suspension Bridge, Switzerland.
  • The largest glacier in continental Europe.
  • The Aiguille du Midi and the Cosmiques Arête.

Task 1 - How alpine glaciers gain and lose mass

  1. Add the diagram above to your notes for this unit along with a definition of accumulation zone, equilibrium line and ablation zone.

Task 2 - From snow to ice

From this →

Falling in snow

to this.

How long has this been trapped in the ice? Mer de Glace, Chamonix, France
  1. Synthesis the information in these four sources to produce a flow chart that illustrates and quantifies the process of glacial ice formation.
Density and porosity of different types of snow and ice
[18 February 2014]
  1. Have a go at this exam style questions → Describe the transition from fresh snow to glacial ice.