Climate change is a defining challenge of the current age, and sea-level rise is one of the greatest effects. This module helps students to learn about primary stakeholders in sea-level change and explore a wide variety of climate-related data. The module opens with a stakeholder analysis for residents of a small island nation (Maldives), a coastal developing nation (Bangladesh), and a major coastal urban area (southern California). Students then gain considerable spreadsheet analysis skills through analyzing sea surface temperature, sea-level altimetry, GRACE, InSAR, and GPS data to better understand the factors influencing sea level, including thermal expansion, ice mass loss, and changes in land water storage. Students also consider how much more sea levels will rise this century. The final project is a report to a relevant stakeholder group that synthesizes the current knowledge.
Webinar about teaching this module: Engaging Undergraduates with the Data Behind Melting Ice and Changing Sea Levels
For an introductory-level module on climate change, please see Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes
Strengths of the Module
- Stakeholder analysis from three different settings (Maldives, Bangladesh, and southern California) enables students to explore the large difference in impacts from sea-level rise depending on geographic and socioeconomic factors. This process helps put a "face" on how people will be affected as sea-level change progresses.
- Students explore a wide range of geodetic data to examine the rate and causes of sea-level rise. These efforts result in a strong sense of how time-series data may be manipulated and analyzed.
- Through data analysis, the students discover the causes of sea-level rise. The large role of thermal expansion in current sea-level rise is a surprise to many students.
- Students find it empowering to know more about the ways changes in ice sheets, climate parameters, and sea level are measured. It helps move the issue away from politics and toward a more nuanced understanding of the complex system.
Great fit for majors-level classes in:
- Environmental Science
- Earth System Science
- Geological hazards
- Global change
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Understanding Our Changing Climate Module
- Unit 1: Climate Change and Sea Level: Who Are the Stakeholders?
- Unit 2: Global Sea-Level Response to Temperature Changes: Temperature and Altimetry Data
- Unit 3: Global Sea-Level Response to Ice Mass Loss: GRACE and InSAR data
- Unit 4: Measuring Ice Mass Changes: Vertical Bedrock GPS
- Unit 5: Societal Implications of Climate Change: Stakeholder Report
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
- Join the Community