Sea Level Rise
Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are leading to sea level rise and flooding in coastal cities. In this exercise you can explore the role of melting polar ice in sea level rise and the costs and benefits of building a sea wall to keep out the rising seas.
Materials for Working as a Class
Student Materials for Working Independently
Complete Materials for Teachers
Summary Anthropogenic greehouse gas emissions are leading to sea level rise and flooding in coastal cities. In this module, students will learn about the role of melting polar ice in sea level rise. They will explore different sea level rise scenarios and how they connect to different greenhouse gas emission pathways. Finally, they calculate the damages of sea level rise in a coastal city and compare to the cost of building a sea wall and draft a memo with their recommendations to the city council. Developed by Lea Fortman and Penny Rowe.
- Increase climate literacy by learning how polar ice melt contributes to sea level rise.
- Explore different sea level rise scenarios using an online tool.
- Learn how sea level rise scenarios connect to greenhouse gas emission pathways.
- Explore decision making under uncertainty in the context of climate change.
- Gain computational skills through performing calculations in Excel.
Context for Use. These modules were adapted from college-level modules that were designed to be taught in a classroom setting. They have been adapted for the High School level and redesigned so they can be taught in a virtual classroom setting during the COVID-19 school closures. The college-level modules have been successfully taught in a number of Economics and Science and Economics of Climate-Change course. The High School module presented here will be taught in a virtual classroom during April/May 2020 and revised based on feedback. The module is meant to be flexible, allowing the instructor to choose how deeply to go into material and making it easy to skip sections or make parts optional if desired. It can also be taught in a classroom setting when schools reopen. Students must have a computer or device with Excel or similar spreadsheet program as well as access to the internet. A notebook may be desired for students to record answers to Pause for Analysis and Discussion questions, and for drafting a memo in the concluding assignment. If taught in a classroom setting, students may work at computers in pairs. The school must allow access to the websites used in the module.
Teaching Guide, Keys, and Assessment
Supporting materials (In case they are moved or removed online)
- Climate Central Riskfinder Website: https://riskfinder.climatecentral.org/. See also http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/.
- NOAA 2017 report: Sweet, William V., et al. “Global and regional sea level rise scenarios for the United States.” (2017).
- IPCC website.
- DeConto and Pollard, 2016 (published article, not open access): DeConto, Robert M., and David Pollard. “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise.” Nature 531.7596 (2016): 591-597.
- DeConto and Pollard, 2016 (pdf).
- Kopp et al, 2017 (pdf): Kopp, Robert E., et al. “Evolving understanding of Antarctic ice‐sheet physics and ambiguity in probabilistic sea‐level projections.” Earth’s Future 5.12 (2017): 1217-1233.
PENGUIN modules were created with funding from the National Science Foundation. Creative Commons Copyright. You may freely use and share with attribution to the PENGUIN project as follows:
Rowe, P.M. et al (2020): Integrating polar research into undergraduate curricula using computational guided inquiry, JGE, 2020. (link)