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Changing Planet: Fresh Water in the Arctic

NBC Learn, NESTA - Windows to the Universe

This Changing Planet video documents scientists' concerns regarding how melting Arctic sea ice will increase the amount of fresh water in the Beaufort Gyre, which could spill out into the Atlantic and cause major climate shifts in North America and Western Europe. The video includes interviews with scientists and a look at the basics of how scientists measure salinity in the ocean and how ocean circulation works in the Arctic.

Video length 5:18 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Ocean as climate control, oceanic conveyor belt; abrupt changes in thermohaline circulation
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Climate is complex
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Climate change has consequences
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Thermal energy carried by ocean currents has a strong influence on climates around the world. Areas near oceans tend to have more moderate temperatures than they would if they were farther inland but at the same latitude because water in the oceans can hold a large amount of thermal energy.
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Transfer of thermal energy between the atmosphere and the land or oceans produces temperature gradients in the atmosphere and the oceans. Regions at different temperatures rise or sink or mix, resulting in winds and ocean currents. These winds and ocean currents, which are also affected by the earth's rotation and the shape of the land, carry thermal energy from warm to cool areas.
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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

About the Science

  • This video examines the impacts of fresh water flowing into the Arctic Ocean from ice and rivers on thermohaline circulation using advanced, specifically-designed engineering.
  • Scientists profiled are from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and other research institutes.
  • Good background information and references given in the accompanying lesson plan: http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/leaky_gyre.html.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • The video outlines the issues of fresh water flowing into the Arctic Sea and the challenges that scientists face collecting data there.
  • Teachers should be aware (and pass on to students) that climate change will have different impacts in different parts of the world and that it won't be "warming" everywhere.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video quality is not ideal; video may be pixelated at larger viewing sizes.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Accompanying lesson plan with activities "The Case of the Leaky Gyre" - http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/leaky_gyre.html

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