Jump to this Activity »
Sea Level: Ice Volume Changes

Texas A&M University Ocean Drilling Distance Learning Program

In this lesson, students identify the relationship between global climate change and Earth's ice volume and sea level. They also interpret climatic history through examining the characteristics and relative ages of layers of ice in an ice core sample.

Activity takes four 45-minute class periods. Materials for freezing ice cores are needed for one activity.

Discuss this Resource»
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Based on evidence from tree rings, other natural records, and scientific observations made around the world, Earth’s average temperature is now warmer than it has been for at least the past 1,300 years. Average temperatures have increased markedly in the past 50 years, especially in the North Polar Region.
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4e
understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling
About Teaching Principle O
Other materials addressing Our
Melting of ice sheets and glaciers, combined with the thermal expansion of seawater as the oceans warm, is causing sea level to rise. Seawater is beginning to move onto low-lying land and to contaminate coastal fresh water sources and beginning to submerge coastal facilities and barrier islands. Sea-level rise increases the risk of damage to homes and buildings from storm surges such as those that accompany hurricanes.
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:D) Global Connections
Other materials addressing:
D) Global Connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
Other materials addressing:
A) Human/environment interactions.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Teachers' guide is on a link in the navigation bar. The content is presented here in a much more compact fashion.
  • Students are asked to freeze and refreeze a model ice core over a series of days, so access to a freezer is a must to do that particular part of the activity.
  • Educators need to find alternate images for Exercise 3.
  • A quick tour of the Arctic and Antarctic regions would set the stage and give a context for students' learning experiences.

About the Science

  • The assumption that all of Antarctica will melt and cause a sea level rise of over 70 m is an extreme scenario over a long time span that is unlikely to occur and involves complex science.
  • The content given to students is strong and well presented.

About the Pedagogy

  • Well-designed activity with a combination of articles, simulations, and hands-on activities.
  • Excellent suite of assessments (pre- and post-tests, final evaluation).
  • A nice mix of different types of activities and web resources woven together in a mini-unit on the effects of temperature increases on the Arctic and Antarctic.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The way the activity is presented, students need to have access to a computer. However, it could be taught offline without having students click through if computer access is limited.
  • Two links in Exercise 3 and one in Exercise 4 are broken. Teachers would need to find images of iceberg formation and sedimentation in order for students to complete these short exercises.
  • Well-organized and easy to navigate and understand for students.

Jump to this Activity »

Have you used these materials with your students? Do you have insights to share with other educators about their use? Please share with the community by adding a comment below.

Please use this space only for discussion about teaching with these particular materials.
For more general discussion about teaching climate literacy please use our general discussion boards.
To report a problem or direct a comment to the CLEAN project team please use our feedback form (or the feedback link at the bottom of every page).
Off-topic posts will be deleted.

Join the Discussion

Log in to reply