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Arctic Climate Feedbacks

Polar Bear Project, CIRES

This video uses film of the Arctic and Arctic researchers as well as animations to discuss feedbacks in the Arctic climate system related to sea ice, the ocean, and clouds. It explains concepts such as albedo and positive and negative feedbacks. The narrative includes discussion of current research and a summary which explains why understanding feedbacks is important.

Video length is 4:53 min.

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

  • It would be helpful for teachers to read Kim Kasten's article on the terms "positive feedback" and "negative feedback," and different ways to describe them that don't have connotations of "good" and "bad" (i.e., using the terms "reinforcing" and "balancing" instead): https://serc.carleton.edu/earthandmind/posts/negativefeedbac.html

About the Content

  • This peer-reviewed educational video introduces feedbacks that are important in the Arctic climate system. It highlights the cause and effect of the Surface Albedo Feedback, a positive feedback loop, and how it relates to a warming Arctic climate.
  • The video clearly explains and illustrates albedo. It also defines positive and negative feedback loops.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    This is a great resource that isolates feedbacks specifically without introducing radiation types. I think it would be an excellent introduction to talking about other climate feedbacks and also long wave and shortwave radiation in the climate system.
    Scientific strengths:
    - This resource gives a great visual explanation of albedo, the reflectivity of a surface from 0-1 (clouds are .8, ice is .6, snow is .9, ocean is only .06 in Arctic). When ice and snow melt, surface albedo decreases, and more heat is absorbed leading to more melt = positive feedback.
    - The video also explains the difference between positive and negative feedback and provides an example of the clouds reflecting sunlight before reaching the surface, which is a negative feedback.

About the Pedagogy

  • This video can be used to introduce and reinforce the concepts of albedo and feedback loops (positive and negative) that affect climate.
  • This video could be in a larger lesson or unit to illustrate these concepts.
  • There are opportunities to stop the video and further explain concepts or explore them in more detail.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video can be viewed online on Youtube. Be aware that the video may start with an ad, so one may need to fast forward in preparation.
  • A video transcript is available to view online.
Entered the Collection: August 2018 Last Reviewed: July 2018

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