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Authors

Bonnie Waltch, Susan Gray

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Video, 10 minutes, 54 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, Polar Regions

Feedback Loops - Permafrost

Synopsis
  • This video explains that as global temperatures increase, the permafrost covering the Northern Hemisphere is thawing and releasing microbes that produce large amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. 
  • Students will learn how this feedback loop is gaining momentum and what people need to do to stop the cycle. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The visuals and diagrams provided in the video support student understanding. 
  • This video can be watched with subtitles which are available in 25 languages. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video does not explain the concept of feedback loops. Teachers should consider showing students this introduction video about feedback loops and the climate.
  • Students should understand cellular respiration and decomposition. This will help students understand why microbes breaking down detritus results in a release of heat-trapping gases like CO2 and methane. 
  • Learning about this issue can be emotionally challenging for students. Before watching, prepare students by letting them know it is acceptable to feel all emotions. Teachers may want to provide an opportunity for students to take action for the climate so they do not feel powerless in the face of this global issue. 

Differentiation

  • Consider having students copy the feedback loop diagrams from the video or create their own to support understanding. 
  • Health classes could watch this video about permafrost melt releasing pathogens into the environment and consider how the feedback loop will exacerbate public health problems.
  • Students are more likely to understand the concept of feedback loops by investigating a model or experiencing this effect through observation. Consider pairing this resource with this lab about soil and the carbon cycle.  
Scientist Notes
The resource underscores the implication of permafrost thawing in the polar regions. This is causing CO2 stored in soils to escape to the atmosphere thereby increasing global temperatures. It also highlights the need to halt the warming feedback loop and re-green the planet. This resource is ideal for classroom use.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-3 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
      • HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
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