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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Podcasts, 12 minutes, 19 seconds
  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - South, USA - Northeast, New Jersey, Polar Regions, New York, New York City, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Delaware, Virginia



Sea Level Rise and Climate Change

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  • This lesson discusses greenhouse gases, melting land ice, the thermal expansion of water, current infrastructure for storm surges, and how sea level rise is impacting coastal communities.
  • It includes a student handout, podcast, educator guide, maps, activities, discussion questions, and a discussion of solutions.
  • The lesson also references Hurricane Katrina.
Teaching Tips


  • Students will investigate solutions for sea level rise and learn about "sunny day" flooding.
  • The educator's guide contains multiple activities that could be spread out over a week.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The podcast episode is the second in a two-part series on the topic of sea level rise.
  • Teachers may wish to break the podcast episode up into the following sections:
    • (0:00-5:45) The first section details the current effects of sea level rise on coastal regions.
    • (5:46-7:09) The second section explains flooding mitigation efforts around the world.
    • (7:10-11:31 ) The third section explains future prospects for coastal regions and islands. 


  • English and writing classes could write "choose your own adventure" short stories that show what will happen to coastal communities if people take action to stop greenhouse gas emissions and what will happen if they do not.
  • History classes could discuss why, throughout history, humans have built settlements in coastal regions.
  • Other resources on this topic include this article about solutions for protecting coastal communities, this PBS video on human displacement due to climate change, and this video from Grist on what New Orleans is doing to reduce the risk of flooding.
Scientist Notes
The resource spotlights the devastating impact of coastal flooding and other extreme weather events on the American people. It recommends ways to prevent further economic loss and climate-related risk on Americans. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • 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.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • 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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