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Author

Vox

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Biology, Health

Regional Focus

Polar Regions

Format

YouTube Video

We're Melting the Arctic and Reviving Deadly Germs

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  • This short video describes the impacts of melting permafrost in polar regions including the release of greenhouse gases and the release of pathogens that have been frozen for thousands of years.
  • The video describes an anthrax outbreak in Siberia amongst reindeer and humans that is believed to be linked to a thawed reindeer carcass and discusses that the release of pathogens from permafrost may become more common as the planet gets warmer. 

Positives

  • This video addresses a topic that is not often discussed related to climate change and students that are interested in medicine or health may understand how climate change is relevant to their studies.
  • This video also presents a concrete example of climate change feedback loops with melting permafrost, which can be a tricky concept for students to understand.
  • Some of the visuals in the clip show a diorama of Arctic regions and the physical effects of melting permafrost, which is an interesting and accessible example of how to model physical change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the climate and geography in Arctic regions.
  • There may be a commercial before the video.

Differentiation

  • Some students could be bothered by the images of dead animals that are shown, so take that into consideration when showing this video.
  • After showing the video, consider discussing other public health concerns related to climate change.  This could be a good area for further student research, especially if they do not see other impacts of climate change, locally.
  • An additional resource that could be helpful is How Permanent is Permafrost.
One of the hidden dangers of climate change is the thawing of the permafrost, the permanently frozen layer of ground in many parts of the Arctic. As the permafrost thaws, it is possible to expose disease and germs that have long been eradicated from the globe. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • 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.
    • 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.
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