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Antarctic Ice Movement: Part 2

WGBH Educational Foundation, NOVA, Teachers' Domain

In this video segment, a team of scientists seeks evidence to support their hypothesis that atmospheric warming may cause water to form beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet. This water causes ice streams to flow much more quickly than the rest of the ice sheet, which has important implications for sea level rise.

Video length: 5:15 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Climate is complex
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is complex
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a
Climate change has consequences
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate change has consequences

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

  • Segment adapted from NOVA Warnings from the Ice. Might be useful to use this clip with other segments from that program.
  • Video could be easily implemented in discussion about climate warming and its affects on sea level rise or on glacial melt and how scientists measure change over time.
  • Suggestions of how to engage students: while watching video clip, note three hypothesis that scientists came up with to explain the observed phenomenon.

About the Science

  • For the most part, an ice sheet moves downslope slowly due to friction against the underlying bedrock. In some parts of the ice sheet, however, ice races along much faster than the rest of the sheet. These areas of fast-moving flow, called ice streams, are believed to be caused by a thin lubricating layer of water and mud.
  • Very current science and clear discussion about the science.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Highlights an important aspect of ice flow in Antarctica, namely that a soft, deformable bed with ample meltwater contributes to the faster velocity of ice streams. Demonstrates how a combination of data sources (remote sensing, seismic, and borehole) are utilized to better understand this phenomena. Resource needs to be updated as the science progresses.

About the Pedagogy

  • Includes background essay, discussion questions, and a list of educational standards addressed by this video.
  • Richard Alley, one of the scientists, uses analogies that make it easier for students to understand the phenomena he is explaining.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Quality of some parts of the video are pixelated.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.

MS-ESS2.C2:The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.

MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.

MS-ESS2.C5:Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

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