Impacts—Melting Ice

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:


  1. Scientists measure sea ice mass and glacial ice mass to see patterns and changes over time
  2. Increasing rates of melting ice on land and sea are an indicator of global climate change
  3. 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.

Specific Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  1. 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.
  2. Demonstrate that ice is less dense than water.
  3. Demonstrate that ice displaces water equal to the mass of the ice.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • 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?