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The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), Nick Bradford


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Groundwater and the Rising Seas

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  • This article discusses threats to groundwater resources in the United States.
  • Students will learn how sea level rise, overdrawing, and precipitation changes can lead to groundwater depletion.
Teaching Tips


  • This article thoroughly explains the importance and sources of groundwater, using effective visuals to convey the threats that US groundwater stores face.
  • Helpful links are included throughout the article, providing opportunities for further exploration of groundwater topics, data, and conservation.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the water cycle.
  • Students may require assistance in interpreting the Saltwater Intrusion graphic. Consider asking students to first describe what they think is happening in the pictures, then support them in analyzing the different causes of saltwater intrusion if necessary.


  • Teachers could ask students to compare the two groundwater depletion maps and discuss the fact that the first map shows the change in groundwater depletion that took place in one hundred years and that the other shows the change in seven years. 
  • Students could make a list of ways that groundwater can be recharged and ways that it can be depleted. After, students could write a paragraph explaining ways people can protect groundwater. 
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive global map of urban water supplies, this TED-Ed video on why water scarcity is a problem for so many people, and this article on how forests can protect water supplies in cities.
Scientist Notes
There is no contradiction in the resource. The data is properly cited and it is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 5-ESS2-2 Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.3-5 Explain why environmental characteristics vary among different world regions.
      • D2.Geo.12.3-5 Explain how natural and human-made catastrophic events in one place affect people living in other places.
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
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