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Will Climate Change Affect the Greenland Ice Sheet?

Amy Nevala, Chad Stevens, Tim Silva, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

This video features a small group of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientists and a photographer as they study two surface glacial lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the dynamics of meltwater on glacial movement.

Video length 10:39 minutes.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
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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
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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

  • Best used in a unit on climate change and/or an oceanography lesson on the ocean conveyor belt, sea-level rise, and hydrology.

About the Science

  • In this video, researchers travel to Greenland to investigate glacial lakes, which form atop the ice sheet each spring and summer as returning sunlight melts ice and snow. They have found that, as lakes grow large, cracks can open suddenly in the lake bottoms, allowing water to drain in a dramatic waterfall more than a half-mile down to the bedrock beneath the ice sheet. The water lubricates the base of the glacier like grease on a railroad track, allowing glaciers to flow faster. As global temperatures rise, more lakes and cracks may form, accelerating the flow of ice to the ocean. Researchers discuss the impact of the phenomenon on sea level rise and changes in the ocean conveyor belt.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • A linked Oceanus article, with related multimedia, provides more in-depth context. See "Getting to the Bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet" link above video.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent quality.
  • Video and accompanying resources appear in online publication of WHOI, Oceanus Magazine.
  • Some difficulty with enlargement to full screen from the toolbar provided.

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