The Ocean's Role in Weather and Climate
Arctic Ice and Climate Change!
The second of two Web Seminars about the Ocean's Role
in Weather and Climate was held on Thursday, January 11, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to
8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Don Perovich, Research Geophysicist
at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The seminar focused on how changes in climate affect the Arctic Sea Ice.
Eighty-one (81) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA
staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and
Wisconsin. Some of the participants attended the symposium on the same topic at
the NSTA Area Conference in Baltimore.
In this presentation educators had the opportunity to learn about the effects of
climate change on the Arctic sea ice. Dr. Perovich started the presentation talking
about the temperature increase recorded around the globe over the last 100 years.
This temperature increase has affected the Arctic sea ice in a couple of ways: melting
of sea ice and decrease in the thickness of the ice. The sea ice extent, measured
best using satellites, has decreased. In 1982 the sea ice area extent in the Arctic
was approximately the size of the continental United States. However, by 2005, the
sea ice area extent had decreased significantly. The decrease in area is comparable
to the area of 22 states east of the Mississippi River. The ice thickness can be
best measured using submarines. A comparison of the measurements of ice thickness
taken between 1958-1976 and 1993-1997 shows that the average sea ice thickness has
decrease by 40%, from 3 meters to less than 2 meters.
Dr. Perovich also talked about the amplifier effect of the sea ice's albedo on climate
change. Albedo is a numerical value between zero (0) and one (1) that represents
the amount of sunlight reflected by a material; in this case ice. For example, ice
has a high albedo, but the ocean and land have a lower value. With the melting of
sea ice taking place in the Arctic, the value of albedo for the region has decreased.
This is a circular effect (amplifier effect) where the more sea ice melts, the lower
the albedo value of the region becomes. The lower value of albedo increases the
temperature of the planet. Dr. Perovich ended the presentation talking about the
International Polar Year activities that will begin in March 2007 where scientists
from all over the world will focus their efforts on learning more about the polar
regions of the world. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide on the
Effects of Oceans on Weather and Climate, grades 9-12.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
"This was helpful especially to help with understanding how climate affects the
"I found the information to be fascinating. I hope to use this with my students
in the very near future."
"Excellent presentation and it was obvious that the presenter was very knowledgeable
and passionate about his field of knowledge."
"Love getting the up to date research, it is easy to get isolated in the classroom.
Connecting with researchers in the field is an honor and a great privilege. Also
really appreciate how efficient these seminars are-- love the access to learning!"
Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions,
and a job well done!
Web Seminar II Resources
See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.
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- Download File Web Seminar II
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Underwritten in part by: NOAA