Global Meltdown

Name: _________________________________       Date: _____________

Earth's cryosphere, its layer of ice and snow, is going through big changes. This is especially true in the polar regions where sea ice, ice sheets, ice caps, and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. In this Planet Diary activity, you'll get the details on this global meltdown.

  1. Start at the State of the Cryosphere. Scroll to the graph of global temperature. How much has mean global temperature increased since 1880?
  2. View this animation of summer sea ice in the Arctic. How has the minimum sea ice extent changed since 1979?
  3. How has the meltdown affected Northern Hemisphere snow cover? Scroll to the graphic of its snow cover and read the paragraph to its right. How does melting snow speed up global warming?
  4. Continue to Glaciers. Read the first paragraph. What's happened to glaciers worldwide in the past century?
  5. Take a look at the impact on ice shelves. What is an ice shelf?
  6. Scroll to the picture of Antarctica's major ice shelves, then to Disintegration. Look at the Larsen Ice Shelf photo. Describe what's happened to this ice shelf.
  7. All of this melting ice has to end up somewhere. Click to see how it's affecting global sea level. Scroll to the last paragraph. How much has sea level risen over the past 100 years?
  8. How might rising seas, and climate change in general, affect your part of the country? Visit the EPA's Impacts by Region. Roll your mouse over your region. Describe the potential impacts of climate change where you live.