Classroom Discussion Activity

Melting Ice, Rising Seas

The rising temperatures of global climate change are melting the world’s ice. Most notable are the shrinking ice sheets of Greenland and west Antarctica, which have shown dramatic loss in recent years. Earth scientists are studying geologic records of past warming in the glaciers of Greenland and in the fossilized coral reefs of the Florida Keys to predict future ice loss and associated sea level rise.

Class Discussion

Establish Prior Knowledge
Before watching the video discuss with students the various methods scientists use to formulate and test hypotheses: observation—collecting observational data
in the field; experimentation—designing and conducting a controlled experiment, and then collecting data from the experiment; and modeling—constructing and running a computer model using known information and physical laws, and then collecting data from the running of the model.

Exploration
Ask students to take notes while they are watching the video about the methods scientists use to formulate and test a hypothesis.
Have students view the feature and read the synopsis. Use the following questions to guide the discussion.
• What observations have scientists made regarding the glaciers of Greenland and ice sheets in West Antarctica?
• Why are these ice sheets melting at a faster pace?
• What evidence do scientists have that the global temperatures are 2ºC higher than they were 50 years ago?
• What evidence do scientists have that, in the past, seas were once higher than they are today?
• What do scientists hypothesize about what will happen if global temperatures continue to rise?

Wrap-up
Use the following questions to wrap up your discussion.
• Are the scientists’ predictions certain? As scientists continue to gather data and evaluate their findings, how might their hypotheses about rising seas change?