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Water: A Zero Sum Game

Learn More About Climate, University of Colorado Boulder

This video takes viewers high into the Rocky Mountain snowpack, where researchers dig snow pits to explore the source of Colorado's water supply. Highlights how important snowpack is to the supply of fresh water available in western and southwestern states. Snowmelt dynamics are discussed, including the impact of a warming climate on these dynamics.

Video length is 5:03 min.

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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

  • Although focused on Colorado, the video is a good resource for teachers who are teaching about the effects of global warming on US citizens. This video would serve best as a prompt to beginning a lesson or unit on the water cycle and/or local water supplies if living in a region supplied by this snow melt.

About the Science

  • Video shows scientists measuring snowpack in Colorado mountains (both above ground and under the snowpack) and discusses the importance of snowpack to water storage and water supply to lower elevations: lower snowpack, less storage, less water available.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity presents researchers working in the field and explains how the scientific knowledge originates from this work. The underground lysimeter installation is a great example of this. The connection and explanation between snowmelt and the subsurface flow part, how water actually gets into the stream, is weak. The conclusion that the climate-driven transition from snow to rain, causing increased evapotranspiration, is not supported by anything presented in this work.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Shows scientists (both male and female) at work in the high mountains. Although the resource is light on science content, it illustrates the practice of science, which ties in nicely to NGSS.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Good-quality video

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