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Meltwater Pulse 2B

Yale Climate Forum

This video, from Yale Climate Connections, explores the 2014 melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet that captured headlines. Interviews, animations, and news broadcasts explore what the melting meant for both the future of some of the Antarctic glaciers and sea level rise, and informs the viewer how seafloor terrain influences the speed of ice sheet melt.

Video length is 5:56 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
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

Water plays a major role in the storage and transfer of energy in the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.4 Water stores and transfers energy.

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

  • Would be a good addition to a class on ice sheets and melt rates, sea level rise, or general cryosphere studies. Could be used as a jumping off point to have students look into some of the data given here to learn more about the topography of Antarctica, the amount of water stored in the ice, or as a reason to learn more about the cryosphere.

About the Science

  • This video documents the current collapse and melting of a large part of Antarctica and compares this event to a period of sudden melting and sea level rise after the last ice age ended, and proposes a potential forecast for sea level change in the future.
  • Interviews, animations and broadcasts collected from well-known sources (NASA, U. Chicago, Penn State, BBC/CBS/NBC)
  • Concise explanation of sea level rise, grounding line retreat, potential for sea level rise to "jump".
  • Historical explanation of noted Meltwater Pulse Event 1A and potential for repeat, hence the title Meltwater Pulse 2B.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Concise and simple summary of the marine ice sheet instability concept that combines expert interviews, model output, satellite imagery and animations. This topic is very significant (arguably most significant) for constraining future sea level estimates, so a very timely and relevant video! However, the video fails to make the explicit connection between the title (Meltwater Pulse 2B), which is fictitious, and the primary focus of the video, which is recent research that suggests that regions of Antarctica, notably the Amundsen Sea sector, are exhibiting characteristics of marine ice sheet instability. The viewer is expected to make the link between Meltwater Pulse 1A (historic event during LGM deglaciation, ~14k yrs ago) and the expected increase in ice discharge/sea level rise in the next 200 years from Antarctica. I think this will be missed by many students. Furthermore, Meltwater Pulse 1A, while caused by ice sheet disintegration, likely came in a couple forms: i) increase ice discharge/iceberg calving and ii) massive floods. The latter is unlikely to be associated with marine ice sheet instability concept presented here. I still think this video is useful and can be utilized but the teacher needs to be aware of these points and make sure the video is put into proper context.

About the Pedagogy

  • This would support lessons on cryosphere, sea level rise, ice melt, or feedback loops.
  • Background information is essential to provide context for the video. No educational resources (e.g. teacher & student guide) are provided here.
  • Additional video resources are available from Yale Climate Connections (this is one video in a series of videos).

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

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.C2:The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.

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

MS-ESS2.C5:Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.

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-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: 2

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.

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