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Losing Permafrost in Alaska

Spanner Films, WGBH Educational Foundation

This video and accompanying essay review the impacts of rising surface air temperatures and thawing permafrost on ecosystems, geology, and native populations in Alaska.

Video length: 4:13 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

  • Video and accompanying essay and discussion questions could be used in a single class period overview of the impacts of rising Arctic temperatures.
  • Very general resource but could be used to demonstrate the impact on indigenous cultures.

About the Content

  • Shows the current impacts of thawing permafrost on buildings and roads, lakes, riverbanks, and some wildlife including fish. For the most part, the information provided is anecdotal rather than based on comprehensive scientific studies. It does not discuss the science of climate change or permafrost thawing.
  • Video and accompanying background essay use the terms "thawing" and "melting" interchangeably. "Thawing" is the correct term for the temperature-induced change in permafrost.
  • Comments from expert scientist: I liked how people living in the changing permafrost environment were interviewed. This "first-hand", applied, observational perspective coupled nicely with the scientific explanation provided. As a stand alone module, a bit of background regarding why permafrost is there and the link between fossil fuel combustion and climate warming would be useful.

About the Pedagogy

  • Consists of a set of loosely-related interviews of Alaskan residents describing the impacts they see from rising Arctic temperatures.
  • Background essay and discussion questions provided.
  • An entire lesson plan - The Effects of Global Warming in Alaska can be accessed as well.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video meant for smaller screen; pixelated when enlarged. Might be better downloaded.
Entered the Collection: April 2014 Last Reviewed: April 2014

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