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NOAA Sea Level Trends

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, NOAA

The NOAA Sea Level Trends map illustrates U.S. regional and some international trends in sea level, with arrows representing the direction and magnitude of change. Students can investigate sea level changes around the U.S. and some worldwide using an interactive map interface with supporting data plots and tables.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
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Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • This interactive may be a good way to bring multiple disciplines together in an Earth Systems approach. Students can investigate the role of tectonics, sedimentation, and past sea level trends.

About the Science

  • Authoritative maps and related data on sea level rise and projections, which show that sea level is a relative term since some areas will experience substantial sea level rise of a meter or more while other areas, including parts of Alaska, will experience sea level decline primarily due to the rebounding of the surface of the Earth once ice has melted.
  • While the focus is on the coasts of the U.S., global sea level and projections are also included.
  • From the website: The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services has been measuring sea level for over 150 years with tide stations operating on all U.S. coasts through the National Water Level Observation Network.
  • Changes in Mean Sea Level (MSL), either a sea level rise or sea level fall, have been computed at 128 long-term water level stations using a minimum span of 30 years of observations at each location. These measurements have been averaged by month to remove the effect of high frequency phenomena, such as waves and tides, to compute an accurate linear sea level trend.
  • The trend analysis has also been extended to a network of global tide stations, including 114 additional non-NOAA stations.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It provides a strong visual overview, or summary, of up-to-date sea level rise rates around the world. Each arrow on the map links to a pop-up of summary statistics for that particular site, in which there is a further link to a plot of the actual data itself collected at that site, and a wealth of related and supporting information. The resource will continue to be up-to-date as these data are revised regularly, as each station continues to monitor water levels daily.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students can investigate sea level changes around the U.S. and some worldwide using an interactive map interface with supporting data plots and tables.
  • Site provides detailed explanation of the causes of sea level change, why understanding this is important, and the relationship to climate.
  • Students would benefit from having some background in the role plate tectonics and regional glaciation have in changing the vertical position of land.
  • Maps can be viewed in Google Earth, but students will need to know how to do this.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The global map shows the amount of sea level change at each station as an arrow. One can click on the arrow for more detailed information about that station (i.e. graphs at different time scales and a summary paragraph).
  • Under the "Products" tab, there is a function that allows the data to be downloaded as KML files to Google Earth.
  • To use this resource, students will need access to computers and the Internet.
  • There are significant amounts of background information and reference citations available on the site.

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