When it comes to winter, those of us who reside in chilly regions welcome snow days as a break from reality. After snow falls, the world is transformed into a different place. When snow covers everything, nothing seems dirty, nothing seems disturbed.
But underneath it all, something is disturbed. Climate change impacts where and when snowfall happens, and also where snow accumulates and stays for long periods of time. Regions where snow used to cover the land for months at a time have seen the scope of their winter snow dwindle. And that means fewer snow days.
Whether you live in an area that gets a lot of snowfall or in an area that’s never had a snow day at all, take a moment to celebrate snow with your students as an examination of the effects of climate change.
1. How do climate zones help us determine where snow may fall? Check out the MapMaker Interactive map below and zoom in on your community. Work with your students to determine what climate zone your school is in, and talk about what kind of weather you have throughout the year. Do your students have any interesting observations? What have they observed about other climate zones they have visited?
2. How do winter temperatures from nearly a decade ago compare to what your area is experiencing this year? Check out the MapMaker Interactive map below to view average winter temperatures in 2007-2008. What’s the temperature in your school’s playground today, and how does it compare? Based on your findings, do your students feel that climate change is making an impact on your community?
3. How does disappearing snow affect animals? Humans around the world may have different opinions about snow, but sometimes a snowy climate provides the only environment an animal thrives in. Check out this clip from the National Geographic Channel’s Big Cat Week episode “Snow Leopard of Afghanistan.” How is global warming affecting snow leopards? Do your students know of other animals that are affected by similar circumstances?
As snow falls or doesn’t fall in your area this winter, challenge your students to think about what would happen if snow disappeared altogether. How would a world without snow be different than the one we have now? Perhaps the threat of zero snow days to come will light the fire your students need to try to make a difference in future efforts to slow climate change.
More related resources from National Geographic Education
Mapping Tool: MapMaker Interactive
Collection: Climate Change
NG Website: National Geographic Channel
Initiative: Big Cat Week