Our Oceans connect us:
How do we handle the Global Implications of Polar Ice melt
and the local impacts of sea level rise?
You may have heard that
Eskimos have many words for
snow. Whether or not that is
true, it can serve as a reminder
that snow and ice are
important to all life in the
polar regions. Our
understanding that all our
cultures share one planet and
its connected global systems is
as important as understanding
other cultures. It is important
that we all understanding the
cycles of snow and ice and
how they impact our planet. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/10/30/eapolar130.xml
As global temperatures rise, Artic and Antarctic Polar ice melts, including glaciers and sea
ice. How does this melting effect our world?
What is the impact of polar ice melt on the temperature of the ocean and the globe? The
oceans are vast and water temperature varies throughout. This thermal difference drives the
circulation of the water and affects local areas. Water expands as it warms, contributing to a
in sea level rise. Approximately 400 of the 6,500 million people of our world live within a
20 meter elevation and a 20 km distance from the sea. Together the coastal nations share
365,000 km of coastline.
For our country these effects will be felt on a national level. Other
countries will be as or more affected than we are. You and your
team are being asked to be a USA representative to an international
study group to assess the causes and effects of global ice melt.
Your team is asked to present to the United Nations. After your
research, your team will be asked to create and deliver a power
point presentation to explain your findings.
www.un.org/ To prepare yourselves watch the video at the following link http://
Following the 7 minute movie by explore the two interactive maps at the following links:
googlemap sealevel rise http://flood.firetree.net/ NASA climate time machine
Consider the global causes
and effects of the ice melt
then consider the local
impacts of the effects.
1st Keeping a world view-
• How much will melt
and what will be water
temperature change in
the next 100 years?
• What kinds of
conditions change this
• What effect will this
have on the sea level
and the circulation of
the water in the
2nd Focusing on impact of
• How will our land
around the world be
• What will be the
impact be to the
• What will be the
impact land and the
ecology of the land?
Here are the 6 steps to follow:
Read the entire description of the project including the rubric before beginning
One: Brainstorm. Every person should first write what s/he knows about the following list
of questions. Write all the sphere to sphere connections, event to sphere connections and
causal chains. As you go, create a list of things you need to know or questions that you
• How much will melt and what will be water temperature change in the next 100
• What kinds of conditions change this prediction?
• What effect will this have on the sea level and the circulation of the water in the
• How will our land around the world be affected?
• What will be the impacts be to the citizens
• What will be the impact land and the ecology of the land?
Two: Collaborate by brainstorming with your teammates. Do this by sharing your lists with
each other. Choose a note-taker and a question-writer. Give a written version of your
brainstorm to the note-taker and keep one for yourself. Share you understanding through
discussion. How does your ESS analysis compare to others? Try to answer others questions
as a group. As you go have the question-writer keep a list of questions the group needs to
research. (Hand a copy of this in.)
Three: Research by dividing up the research questions between teammates. Research using
from the list given or from trusted sites. Answer the questions as fully as you can.
Four: Collaborate more by sharing your research and deciding what points and information
need to be included in your PowerPoint. Create a list of questions that the group still has
that may be extension questions. Reevaluate your group list of connections and chains.
Add our new understanding.
Five: Create a PowerPoint that describes your scientific understanding of polar ice melt, sea
level rise and the effect of interconnectedness of the ES systems. Include what you have
learned about thermal expansion, ocean circulation and effects of sea level rise on
community and ecology. Make sure that you use images, charts and /or graphs to help your
explanation and hold interest. Also, create a bulleted list of the important information you
are including. Share this list with your instructor and the other groups to get feedback to
prepare yourselves for the presentation. Give feedback to other groups on their lists. Revise
your PowerPoint if needed.
Six: Present it to the “United Nations” (This may include parents, school staff and students.)
Ask your Audience for feedback. Do they understand how polar ice melt is likely to affect
our ocean and our communities? Do they understand what is causing the melt? Do they
understand that this is a global problem with global solutions? What are some of the action
steps they think their governments might take to contribute to the solution of this problem?
There are several books in our library on climate on reserve.
Websites that you can type in or find as links on our blackboard page:
A web space devoted to the current state of our cryosphere. Great site including historic and
present information about polar ice. -Animation showing changes through time for months,
seasons and years. Graphs organize the information in a comprehensible way.
NASA video on ice melt, feedback mechanisms and climate nice clear framing of the
USGS information sites:
Overview of glacier information.
World view of distribution of water by types
This USGS site gives Mean High Water Datum for determination of shoreline position from
topographic Lidar Data. It is useful survey on tide data around the coastal USofA.
This site includes maps that show US land vulnerable to sea level rise. The US is broken
into 4 coastal regions and maps show land in danger at a 1.3 m rise and at a 3.3m rise.
The Netherlands is a country which is already partially below sealevel. This website tells a
little of the history of that decision. It would be a good place to begin an investigation on
the effects of sea level rise of that country.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -Greenhouse Gases- Frequently
Asked Questions. His is a good sight for quick general information about greenhouse gases.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute study “New Study Reports Large-scale Salinity
Changes in the Oceans Saltier tropical oceans and fresher ocean waters near the poles”
Describe the changing salinity of our oceans, possible causes and effects.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute article “Rising Sea Levels and Moving Shorelines
New tools and techniques show promise for better predictions and decisions about coastline
change” A discussion of the impacts on communities and land from rising sea levels.
Focused on the eastern shorelines of the USA.
Snow and Ice Data Center page on State of the cryosphere discuss trends and links melt to
change in climate. There is particular attention paid to sea level rise.
Snow and Ice Data Center page on Data Global Land Ice Measurements from Space
(GLIMS) (an international project with the goal of surveying a majority of the world's
estimated 160000 glaciers.) Great graphs and images. http://nsidc.org/glims/glaciermelt/
A primary source paper on the possibility of sequestrating carbon by stabilizing CO2
Intergovernmental panel on climate change. Climate change 2001 Working group
publication on general information on climate change during the last glacial period.
Good information on coastal populations, Topography, and Sea Level Rise and people
around the world who will be affected by sea level rise
Information of vulnerability of NY coast to storms under the conditions of sea level rise.
Visit this great GIS site to see some of the land flood areas. Many click and map