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How Do We Know: Shrinking Arctic Sea Ice
https://vimeo.com/23540634

Climate Central

This short video from Climate Central explains the technology used to monitor changes in Arctic sea ice. Long-term tracking (since the late 1970's) shows Arctic sea ice has been on a steady decline and this could have significant implications for global temperatures.

Video length is 2:01 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean exerts a major control on climate by dominating Earth's energy and water cycles. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of solar energy. Heat and water vapor are redistributed globally through density-driven ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Changes in ocean circulation caused by tectonic movements or large influxes of fresh water from melting polar ice can lead to significant and even abrupt changes in climate, both locally and on global scales.
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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.
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change. Animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses will migrate to new areas with favorable climate conditions. Infectious diseases and certain species will be able to invade areas that they did not previously inhabit.
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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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.
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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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Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
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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

  • Educators may wish to use the video to introduce a discussion about Arctic sea ice. It could also act as an effective summary for such a discussion. Students can compare the data as shown up to 2009 with current information on ice extent.

About the Science

  • The points in this video are well-illustrated by satellite images and animations. Shows seasonal as well as annual fluctuations in ice coverage. Good explanation of the ice albedo effect in general terms.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It raises concern about the shrinking cryosphere more specifically the northern polar region which is experiencing drastic changes. The data shown here covers time period from 1979 - 2009. The Arctic cryosphere however depicts the similar decreasing trend till now, i.e. 2013.

About the Pedagogy

  • The video does a good job of explaining how the extent of Arctic sea ice is changing and what its implications are. While there is no teacher's guide, the video should stimulate a good discussion.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • High-quality video. No closed captioning.

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