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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.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 7 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c
Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a

Energy Literacy

Earth is constantly changing as energy flows through the system.
Other materials addressing:
2.1 Changes in energy flow over time.

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

  • 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

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.

MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS2.D3:The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 7

HS-ESS2.A1:Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes.

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

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