Impact of Polar Climate Change on Living Systems

Climate change, Microbes, and Genomes!
The second of two web seminars on the topic of “Impact of Polar Climate Change on Living Systems” was held on Thursday, June 14, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. David Kirchman, Maxwell P. & Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware's College of Marine and Earth Studies. Dr. Kirchman talked about how climate change is affecting the Arctic, the importance of microbes as producers and consumers of greenhouse gases, and genomes.

The graph compares the percentage of total bacteria in different oceans.  Arctic bacteria are active, even in freezing water. Forty (40) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. One presenter attended from Puerto Rico and another from Dubai.

Dr. Kirchman shared three important ideas with the audience in this web seminar: (1) Climate change is real, especially in the Arctic, which is very sensitive to global warming. (2) Microbes are important because of their abundance and their role in consuming and producing greenhouse gases. (3) Data about genomes help us understand microbes in the Arctic and other natural environments. At the end of the program, Dr. Kirchman shared a few websites related to the International Polar Year and of interest to educators. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide titled Living in the Weather, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I have so much to learn about global warming! I teach gifted students and science is not my major so I am always trying to get information to pass on to them!
  • "I am on an island off the coast of Maine anything connected with the ocean is a great way to teach my kids."
  • "With the greenhouse effect being a hot topic, I can better explain some things that are happening. I can also discuss with my students what scientists are doing in an effort to try to better understand what is happening in our polar regions."
  • "The slides were excellent and made the discussion so much easier to follow."

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


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