Part 2: Albedo, Seasons, and Land Cover

Guiding Question: 

How does albedo change over the seasons in different land cover classes?



Estimated Time: 

What to do and how to do it:

  1. INTRODUCTION: Use the Land Cover Class Slideshow or Definitions to introduce the concept of land cover classes, and explore the specific classes that are used by the MODIS instrument (for a general description of what satellites do, see NASA's What is a Satellite resource).  Provide a brief background of the MODIS instrument. Revisit the importance of satellite data (long-term measurements and global coverage).
    Instructor poses the guiding question (How does albedo change over  the seasons in different land cover classes?) and solicits students’ ideas on what information/data they would need to answer that question.  
  2. Navigate to Carbon Mapper using the instructions on the Changes in Seasonal Albedo with Land Cover Class handout. 
  3. Instructor provides a brief tour of the Carbon Mapper (See Carbon Mapper Features document in side bar)
  4. Students continue to follow instructions on the Changes in Seasonal Albedo with Land Cover Class handout to find seasonal albedo for locations with different land cover classes. Note: Handouts instruct students to use data from 2013. If you decide to have students use data from other years, be aware that there may be missing data at the lat/lon locations in the handout. If this is the case, have students choose a nearby lat/lon with complete data that is still in the same land cover class. 
  5. WRAP-UP: Answer any questions students have regarding the activity or concepts. 


  1. Use the Checklist for Student Work, or your own rubric, to assess the quality of student work.
  2. Have students either informally report out to the class on the overall results/trends of their study (orally or using chart paper, the smartboard, etc.) or create a formal report. For suggestions, rubrics, and examples of formal reports, see the GLOBE Carbon Cycle Communicating Findings page.