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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»

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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 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.

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