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Contribution of the Cryosphere to Changes in Sea Level

M.F. Meier, Mark Dyurgerov, National Snow and Ice Data Center

This web page from the National Snow and Ice Data Center contains two related visualizations and supporting information about them. The first visualization gives an estimate of the percent contribution to sea level change since the 1990s from three contributors - small glaciers and ice caps, the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The second visualization shows the cumulative contribution to sea level from small glaciers and ice caps plotted with the annual global surface air temperature anomaly.

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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

  • Global sea level rise is a result of both ocean thermal expansion and glacier melt. This graphic could serve as a great introduction to help students identify how glaciers contribute to sea level rise via volume and area. An explanation of how scientists compute this is also provided.

About the Science

  • The surrounding text is written in clear but technical language. Details and references are included.
  • The network of lower latitude small glaciers and ice caps, although making up only about four percent of the total land ice area, may have provided as much as 60 percent of the total glacier contribution to sea level change since the 1990s.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Breaks down major contributors to modern and projected sea-level rise and assesses the contribution of each (2009 data). Includes a histogram and a plot each showing real data illustrating points covered.

About the Pedagogy

  • Since the supporting background is written scientifically, educators will need to develop their own context and inquiry questions for this resource.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • While these two visualizations convey important information about sea level rise, there are no supporting educational materials to make it easier for educators to present it to their students.
Entered the Collection: March 2013 Last Reviewed: October 2016

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