Summary: As the ocean’s temperature increases, its volume expands. In this topic guide, students use a model to demonstrate the relationship between water temperature and volume, and then use their findings to describe the impact a warming ocean has on sea level.
Concepts to teach:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Structure and Function
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
- ESS2.C – The roles of water in Earth’s surface processes
- Science Practices
- Developing and using models, Planning and carrying out investigations
- Heated water has more volume than cooler water due to a process called thermal expansion.
- Thermal expansion is the primary cause of climate induced sea level rise.
- A model can demonstrate a scientific concept.
Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations
- HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
Students will be able to:
- Demonstrate that heated water has more volume than cooler water due to a process called thermal expansion
- Explain how sea level rise results in part from thermal expansion.
- Use a model to demonstrate a scientific concept.
Activity Links and Resources:
- COSEE’s Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise—In this experiment, students measure the relationship between water volume and water temperature. This activity can be performed as a demonstration, or at the high school level, in student groups.
- EPA’s Sea Level: On the Rise, part I—Another lesson using the same activity.
- What evidence exists to indicate that sea level is rising?
- Why is measured and predicted sea level rise less dramatic on the Oregon coast compared to many other places on the globe?
- How might a large earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone impact sea level on the Oregon coast?