Questions for ‘Cool Jobs: Careers on ice’

A section of an ice core containing tiny air bubbles. Scientists can study the air in those bubbles to create a record of Earth’s past climate.

edenpictures/Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

To accompany feature ‘Cool Jobs: Careers on ice’


Before reading:

1.    What do you think scientists could learn by looking at very old ice?

2.    You’ve heard that snowflakes are all different from each other — but why do you think that might be?

During reading:

1.    What is an ice core?

2.    What’s inside a bubble in an ice core?

3.    List three kinds of information about the ancient climate that scientists can gather from an ice core.

4.    Where is Europa?

5.    What are some reasons a scientist would call Europa “super interesting”?

6.    List at least three unsolved mysteries about Europa.

7.    Why can water inside clouds get extremely cold without freezing?

8.    How does a snowflake form?

9.    Why is it difficult to take pictures of snowflakes?

10. What kinds of things can snowflakes tell scientists about storms?

After reading:

1.    Would you rather be able to travel back in time and see an ancient ice cap, or travel to icy Europa? Explain your answer.

2.    Now that you know what kinds of information scientists can get from snowflakes, what do you think they could learn from a raindrop?


1.    The bottom of the ice cap studied in Greenland was 580 meters (1,900 feet) down, and the ice there was likely 125,000 years old. Assuming that the depth of each year’s ice is constant throughout the ice core, at what depth would the ice be 100,000 years old (use either metric or American units)? At what depth would it be 87,000 years old? Show your work.

2.    Europa is about 710 million kilometers (441 million miles) from Earth. Assuming it takes four years for a spacecraft to reach the moon, how fast will it have to fly, on average, each day to accomplish that? Show your work.