Earth System Science Education (ESSE) at Lehigh University is a Web site designed to promote ESSE for entry level college students and advanced high school students. This site contains instructional modules, laboratories, and tools designed to promote inquiry-based learning. The materials emphasize data analysis skills and understanding real-world applications. The modules can be used alone or with companion lecture, laboratory, or field components. The modules have been validated and field-tested in the classroom.

Instructional module descriptions:

How Does the Carbon Cycle Work?
Carbon is an important global biogeochemical cycle, essential for Earth System Science understanding and relevant for global citizenship. In the module, learners understand the components of the carbon cycle in the terrestrial biosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere, and examine human impacts on the carbon cycle.

Remote Sensing:
Remote sensing is a key tool for understanding our environment and how it changes. It can also be used to determine land cover/land use distributions and quantities over very large (local watershed to continental and global) areas. In the remote sensing module, learners develop skills in spatial data analyses and visualization. The Remote Sensing module can be used alone, or with the carbon cycle module, within or outside the classroom. Accompanying case studies Pennsylvania Sprawl and Melting Glaciers provide examples of how remote sensing techniques are being applied to study changes within our environment.

Pennsylvania Sprawl
Pennsylvania Sprawl is a case study that introduces learners to the application of remote sensing for the study of changing land use patterns using an example of farmland loss to urbanization in the Little Lehigh Creek watershed. The Little Lehigh Creek watershed is situated on the western end of the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Utilizing both historic aerial photographs and modern satellite imagery of the Little Lehigh Creek watershed, the case study quantifies the visible change of the landscape and connects land use change to the resultant environmental impacts, such as the loss of carbon dioxide sequestration within agricultural soils.

Melting Glaciers
Melting Glaciers is a case study that introduces learners to the application of remote sensing for the study of environmental change within the climate sensitive system of a tropical alpine glacier. Satellite imagery of the Quesillococha Glacier, located within the central Andes of Peru, exemplifies the use of remote sensing to record yearly changes in snow melt at high elevations. This case study highlights the ability of scientists to utilize remote sensing within isolated and challenging terrain, locations which are scientifically important yet ground-based study would be prohibitive.

© 2005-2008 Earth System Science Education, Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University