Summary: One indicator of climate change is the increased melting of ice on sea and on land. Students view scientific data showing the extent of ice in the Arctic to see how the amounts have changed over time. They then conduct an experiment to demonstrate which masses of melting ice contribute most to sea level rise and why.
Concepts to teach:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Cause and Effect, Stability and Change
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
- PS1.A – Structure and Properties of Matter
- ESS2.C – The roles of water in Earth’s surface processes
- Science Practices
- Developing and using models
- Scientists measure sea ice mass and glacial ice mass to see patterns and changes over time
- Increasing rates of melting ice on land and sea are an indicator of global climate change
- Melting land-based ice contributes to sea level rise, while melting sea ice does not
Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations
- MS-PS1-4. Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Students will be able to:
- Learn that ice formations on land will cause a rise in sea level when they melt, whereas ice formations on water will not cause a rise in sea level when they melt.
- Demonstrate that ice is less dense than water.
- Demonstrate that ice displaces water equal to the mass of the ice.
Activity Links and Resources:
- EPA’s Sea Level: On the Rise, part 2—Students create a model representing sea ice and land ice and measure the effects on the water level when the ice melts. This activity can be performed by student groups.
- How has Arctic sea extent changed over past decades? Graphic visualizations show changes in sea ice cover.
- Why do scientists track sea ice extent in the Arctic?
- How will melting Arctic sea ice affect sea level?
- How will melting glaciers and ice on Greenland and Antarctica affect sea level?
- NOAA’s Global Science Investigator—View an animation of September minimum Arctic sea ice extent for each year from 1979–2004.