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Sea Change Part III: Interpreting the Results

Daniel Grossman

This video is the third in a three-part series by the Sea Change project, about scientists' search for Pleiocene beaches in Australia and elsewhere to establish sea level height during Earth's most recent previous warm period. This segment features the research of Jerry Mitrovica, Harvard geophysicist.

Video length is 10:23 min.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Can be viewed as a stand-alone video or in concert with the videos of Parts 1 and 2 featured on the Sea Change website http://sealevelstudy.org.
  • Utilize background information on the Sea Change website.
  • Educator should be cautious about the implication of uncertainty in understanding sea level rise. The video finishes on a note of uncertainty (with respect to the historical sea level rise, not the current sea level rise). This topic is well understood, and sea level projections today are very accurate. Because of this and to avoid confusion, it is suggested that this be used at college level only.

About the Science

  • This video highlights local-scale variations in sea level rise. While melting ice causes sea level to rise on a global scale, the isostatic rebound from the loss of ice can cause the land surface to 'spring back' as a result of the removal of the mass of ice. This can cause a localized lowering of relative sea level because the land surface gets higher. The exact amount of sea level rise in each area is dependent on the amount of 'spring back' and the specific topography.
  • Glaciers also exert a gravitational attraction, which can cause a local rise in sea level when the glaciers are present, and a local drop in sea level when the glaciers melt.
  • Both of these inputs are in the opposite direction of what we expect, which is that melting glaciers lead to sea level rise. However, these localized effects are just that - local. Overall, sea level is still rising as ice melts worldwide.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video is up to date in terms of the theory used to predict sea level rise from melting glaciers. The explanations and illustrations are perfect for understanding the complex theory. There is a website listed at the end of the video (http;//sealevelstudy.org) that provides useful supporting information.

About the Pedagogy

  • Video uses animations and analogies to help explain the geophysical phenomena featured.
  • Although the video is long-ish for classroom use, it is easy to follow and presents aspects of the study of sea level rise not generally presented in the public media.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

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