Mapping Sea Level Rise

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In this activity related to climate change, learners create and explore topographical maps as a means of studying sea level rise. Learners use various everyday materials including ice and a potato to investigate the difference between sea ice and glaciers in relation to sea level rise, create and use a topographical map to predict sea level rise, and discuss how sea level rise will affect Alaska's coastline. This lesson plan includes detailed activity procedure guidelines, critical thinking questions, an overhead, and handouts. NOTE: material cost does not include cost to purchase DVD since it is not essential to the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Beakers
  • Pitcher
  • Ice cubes
  • Potatoes (cut in 1/2)
  • Clear plastic tubs with flat bottom and clear plastic lid
  • Water soluble markers
  • Centimeter rulers
  • Kitchen knife
  • Water
  • Blue food coloring
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Global Climate Interactive DVD
  • OVERHEAD: “Map of Shishmaref”
  • STUDENT WORKSHEET: “The Rising Coast”


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Geochemical Cycles
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
      • Probability
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Reasoning and Proof
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, UAF Geophysical Institute, 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation ITEST program