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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 -- either now or in the past -- may explain why water has formed beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, causing ice streams that flow much more quickly than the rest of the ice sheet. This phenomenon has important implications for potential sea level rise.

Video length: 5:15 minutes.

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Climate Literacy
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Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
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Climate is complex
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Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
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Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
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Climate change has consequences
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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 described phenomenon.

About the Science

  • For the most part, an ice sheet moves downslope slowly because the ice is in direct contact with 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 between the ice and the land.
  • 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.

About the Pedagogy

  • Includes background essay, discussion questions, and addresses standards.
  • Richard Alley, one of the scientists, uses analogies that make it easier for students to understand some of the phenomena he is explaining.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Downloading requires teacher to register before downloading. This is free and very simple.
  • Quality of some parts of the video are pixelated.

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