Southern Ocean Sentinel & Climate Change

by frances 30. April 2010 17:32

Last night I watched the ABC's Catalyst programme  and the segment "Southern Ocean Sentinel" I was fascinated - firstly as a Science Teacher but also because of the evidence given for Climate Change.

"As well as a thermostat regulating our planet's current climate, scientists believe the Southern Ocean can be a sentinel, an early warning system, of climate tipping points to come. The entire ocean is changing, from the surface to the depths. When seawater freezes it leaves the salt behind. The resulting brine is super-cold, denser, saltier, and sinks to the bottom. That's why it's known as Antarctic Bottom Water. It drives a global current system called the Overturning Circulation." (Source: website)...."At the University of Tasmania, Donna Roberts and her team are searching for signs of ocean acidification. This is what she's looking for — tiny planktonic snails called pteropods. With shells the size of sand grains, they float using their foot like a wing, and catch plankton in nets made of mucus. Dr Donna Roberts "There are millions and billions of tonnes of pteropods in the Southern Ocean and in some regions, particularly the Ross Sea area, there is more pteropods per cubic metre than krill." Pteropods have a really, really fragile shell. All shells are made out of calcium carbonate but not all calcium carbonate is created equal. There's two types and the scientific names are calcite and aragonite.

NARRATION
When CO2 dissolves, it reacts with water to form carbonic acid and carbonate ions, which decreases the pH. Aragonite is more soluble, so any change in pH will affect the growth of aragonite shells first.

Dr Donna Roberts
Now, aragonite is actually in the shells of pteropods and in corals. So corals and pteropods are going to be at risk first if the ocean health and the ocean chemistry changes and it's changing because we're putting carbon dioxide into the water. We weigh the shells individually. Each shell will be about fifteen micrograms.

Mark Horstman
Fifteen millionths of a gram?

Dr Donna Roberts
Yes. I've probably weighed about a couple of hundred thousand shells. We're actually comparing shells from ten years ago to shells from today and what we find is that the shells of today are thirty five percent smaller and more fragile than they were ten years ago.

NARRATION
That means the pteropods of the Southern Ocean, and the food chains they underpin, may be living on borrowed time. Donna can calculate the CO2 levels when they'll basically run out of shell.

Dr Donna Roberts
The tipping point for pteropods in the southern ocean is four hundred and fifty parts per million and we are currently at three hundred and eighty eight so we're heading there rapidly and we, we think from models that we're going to get there in about the winter of 2030." (Source: website)

This would be a terrific report for students in Years 8 - 12 studying Ecology and Climate Change to view and would be a great resource for a scientist role within Climate Change WebQuest.

 

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Climate Change +WebQuests

by frances 23. July 2009 12:10

Safe Climate Australia has been recently launched. This organisation is a non-profit organisation with numerous scientists and others involved in renewable energy being the founding members. This type of organisation would be a good one to introduce students to especially in the Conclusion of a WebQuest where Real World Feedback is sometimes required. Getting students to contact real scientists with their own views, solutions or ideas helps students to recognise that their own work is important!

 

 

WebQuest Direct has over 75 WebQuests on Global Warming and Climate Change.

Here is a 5 Star (the best) WebQuest about Global Warming!

Global Warming: Can you feel the heat?  Gold award     

Rating:
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Science
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Creative Product; Journalistic; Persuasion; Research; Science
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
 Author: Kerrie Malcolm (2008)

Designed for students in Year 9 studying Science particularly Earth Science and Global Warming. It could also be used in Social Sciences particularly Geography. Students are given the following scenario: "Global warming is currently a hot topic (no pun intended!) and producers of BTN [Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Behind The News, TV show for students] are dedicating five episodes, each 5-10 minutes long, to global warming." Students, in groups, are to select one episode to create and submit to BTN their 3 minute video. They are asked that each episode give viewers an understanding of the effects, causes and solutions to Global Warming. Working as a news crew, each team is to research, write, produce, interview, role play, direct and video tape either: "Episode 1, How are weather patterns changing as a result of global warming? Interview a television weather person, or a weather person from your local Bureau of Meteorology about effects such as rising temperatures, El Nino, and the increased intensity of storms and cyclones; or, Episode 2, Sea levels are gradually rising due to global warming, but that is not the only effect being observed in our oceans. Interview an officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and ask them about coral bleaching, and the acidification of the oceans. This segment could also demonstrate what might happen to the food chains of the ocean with further acidification; or, Episode 3, Investigate the causes of global warming, both natural and human activities. Talk to a scientist about how the carbon cycle is becoming unbalanced; or, Episode 4, The Australian Government intends to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme. Discuss the scheme and its implications for industry and the economy with your local member of the federal parliament; or, Episode 5, Alternative energy can be produced from renewable and non-renewable resources. Contact a company that installs solar or wind energy equipment. Interview someone from the company and ask them to explain how alternative energy sources produce electricity and about the advantages and disadvantages of using their product." There are four roles: Presenter, Director, Camera Person, and, Guest Interview Person. After completing their video, students are to submit their best 3 minutes to BTN which now has a segment on their website that encourages the submission of a 3 minute video which will either be televised or put on the BTN website. Resources comprehensive. Evaluation rubrics for self evaluation, peer assessment and, teacher assessment are provided. Conclusion contains a challenge to submit their videos to other competitions and provides ideas for other projects that students could be involved in. Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains Curriculum Standards for Science and English; Duration: 8 lessons; and, a Lesson Plan implementation as well as addition resources and ideas. Design and Layout: Tips to improve this WebQuest: giving the students some more scaffolding within the process for editing the video; suggest that the students to put their videos onto YouTube as well as sending it to BTN; and, maybe use Movie Maker - a Video editing software that is free and very easy to use. Last updated 2008.

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests | In the Classroom

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As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

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