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  • In this activity, students build simple models to demonstrate the differing impacts of melting land ice and sea ice on sea level rise.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Modelling the link between ice melt and sea level rise

    Melting land ice and melting sea ice have differing effects on sea level rise.

    Although this activity uses climate change and sea level rise as its primary context, it can also be used to explore Physical World concepts:

    • Objects in liquid displace the liquid.
    • The amount of liquid an object displaces is directly related to its volume.
    • As a result, when ice melts in a container of water, the volume of water in the container does not change.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • identify that ice floating in water does not change the volume of water when it melts
    • discuss how the activity models the link between melting land ice and sea level rise
    • make predictions about the potential impacts of melting land ice and sea ice.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • background information for teachers
    • equipment list
    • student instructions
    • extension ideas/prompting questions for teachers.

    Nature of science

    In science, models are often representations of an object or process that enable predictions to be developed and tested. In this activity, students use models to demonstrate the differing impacts that melting land ice and sea ice may have on sea level rise. This fits into the investigating in science aspect of the NZC.

    Related content

    Use these articles below to explore how rising global temperature is causing both land ice and sea ice to melt.

    Antarctica tipping points looks at the irreversible changes we could be facing if we fail to keep global warming below 2℃.

    Related activities

    The implications of melting are also visually demonstrated in the activities Melting glacial ice and Temperature, salinity and water density.

    Useful links

    The NZ SeaRise: Te Tai Pari O Aotearoa programme has released location specific sea level rise projections out to the year 2300 for every 2 km of the coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. This very informative site includes maps (you can find the possible impact on your local area) and there are resources such as posters and videos.

    See NIWA’s Sea levels and sea-level rise – it has lots of information including: how sea levels are measured, what is contributing to rising sea levels, future rise projections and why we should worry.

      Published 4 May 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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