NCA Education Resources for the Southeast and Caribbean Region

"Sea level rise poses widespread and continuing threats to the region’s economy and environment. Extreme heat will affect health, energy, agriculture, and more. Decreased water availability will have economic and environmental impacts." National Climate Assessment, 2014

Disclaimer:
The National Climate Assessment regional resources for educators is written, edited, and moderated by each team of contributors. Posts reflect the views of the team themselves and not necessarily Climate.gov, NOAA, or USGCRP.

Contributors:
Bonnie Murray
NASA’s Innovation in Climate Education

Marilé Colón Robles
Education - NASA Langley Research Center

Michelle Covi
Old Dominion University / VSGC

Alexander Ehrenberg
National Center for Science Education

Rachel Connolly
National Center for Science Education

The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. This report collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping us to see what is actually happening and understand what it means for our lives, our livelihoods, and our future. It is important that these findings and response options be shared broadly to inform citizens and communities across our nation. Climate change presents a major challenge for society. This report advances our understanding of that challenge and the need for the American people to prepare for and respond to its far-reaching implications.

Through its Our Changing Climate section and Climate Science Supplement sections, the NCA contains information that will help educators and students gain a deeper understanding of climate science. This content will support the integration of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into science education.  The NGSS also asks educators to raise the teaching of engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry. In the Adaptation and Infrastructure sections of the NCA, educators can find information on climate-related problems and solutions, including those that draw on engineering design. The Decision Support section provides information on how decision makers across the country are using climate information to prepare for the impacts of climate change that affect where they work and live.

This webpage features key figures, related resources, and lesson plans, videos and visualizations reviewed by CLEAN for all the NCA key messages for the region.  The page contains information that will help educators and students gain a deeper understanding of climate science and the implications of climate variability and climate change for Southeast and Caribbean region.

 

NCA Southeast and Caribbean Region Report and Highlights

Report

Highlights

Región Sudeste y Caribe (Spanish translation)

NCA Key Message 1: Sea Level Rise Threats

visit the full Sea Level Rise Threats page

Sea level rise poses widespread and continuing threats to both natural and built environments and to the regional economy.

1. Guiding Questions

  • What structural and economic issues arise as a result of rising sea levels? How do coastal communities respond to these issues?
  • Identify the factors that put certain communities more at risk than others as a result of sea level rise.
  • How can rising sea levels affect agriculture?

2. Key figures

Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise
The map shows the relative risk that physical changes will occur as sea level rises. The Coastal Vulnerability Index used here is calculated based on tidal range, wave height, coastal slope, shoreline change, landform and processes, and historical rate of relative sea level rise. The approach combines a coastal system’s susceptibility to change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, and yields a relative measure of the system’s natural vulnerability to the effects of sea level rise. (Data from Hammar-Klose and Thieler 2001,12).

Highway 1 to Port Fourchon: Vulnerability of a Critical Link for U.S. Oil
Highway 1 in southern Louisiana is the only road to Port Fourchon, whose infrastructure supports 18% of the nation’s oil and 90% of the nation’s offshore oil and gas production. Flooding is becoming more common on Highway 1 in Leeville (inset photo from flooding in 2004), on the way to Port Fourchon. See also Ch. 25: Coasts, Figure 25.5. Figure and photo sources: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development; State of Louisiana 2012, 13).

South Florida: Uniquely Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise presents major challenges to South Florida’s existing coastal water management system due to a combination of increasingly urbanized areas, aging flood control facilities, flat topography, and porous limestone aquifers. For instance, South Florida’s freshwater wellfield protection areas (left map: pink areas) lie close to the current interface between saltwater and freshwater (red line), which will shift inland with rising sea level, affecting water managers’ ability to draw drinking water from current resources. Coastal water control structures (right map: yellow circles) that were originally built about 60 years ago at the ends of drainage canals to keep saltwater out and to provide flood protection to urbanized areas along the coast are now threatened by sea level rise. Even today, residents in some areas such as Miami Beach are experiencing seawater flooding their streets (lower photo). (Maps from The South Florida Water Management District,14 Photo credit: Luis Espinoza, Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources).

Local Planning
Miami-Dade County staff leading workshop on incorporating climate change considerations in local planning. (Photo credit: Armando Rodriguez, Miami-Dade County).

Figure 17.2: Shrinking Lands for Tribal Communities
Aerial photos of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana taken 25 years apart shows evidence of the effects of rising seas, sinking land, and human development. The wetlands adjacent to the Isle de Jean Charles community (about 60 miles south of New Orleans) have been disappearing rapidly since the photo on the left was taken in 1963. By 2008, after four major hurricanes, significant erosion, and alteration of the surrounding marsh for oil and gas extraction, open water surrounds the greatly reduced dry land. See Ch. 25: Coasts for more information. (Photo credit: USGS).

3. Other Resources

Land Subsidence and Relative Sea-Level Rise in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region
Contents include: Description of Land Subsidence; Why Land Subsidence Is a Concern in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region; How Land Subsidence Is Measured; Causes of Land Subsidence; Rates of Land Subsidence and Sea-Level Rise in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region; and What Resource Managers Should Know About Land Subsidence in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region

Risky Business: The Economic Risk of Climate Change in the United States - Southeast
What happens if we stay on our current “business as usual” path? Click to explore the most likely economic impacts of climate change on agriculture, energy, coastal property, labor productivity, and public health for each state.

Coastal Change Hazards: Hurricanes and Extreme Storms
Tropical and extra-tropical storms provide a powerful force that generates dangerous waves and currents capable of moving large amounts of sand, destroying buildings and infrastructure, and reshaping our nation's coastline. A USGS-CMG project titled " National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards" (NACCH) includes research that focuses on understanding the timing, magnitude, and variability of the impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on the sandy beaches of the United States.

Storm Surge maps for US Coasts
The links provide hurricane storm surge inundation maps for the U.S. Atlantic coast, Oahu, the Bahama Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. They were generated using the primary computer model used by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to forecast storm surge--the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model.

Storm Surge Maps for Virginia
The maps that may be downloaded show projected hurricane storm surge flooding along coastal areas. The data used to create these maps come from the partially-completed Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Study, a joint effort by VDEM, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and coastal localities.

Storm Surge Maps for Louisiana and Texas
Click on a parish or county below to obtain the Limits of Storm Surge Inundation map.

4. Lesson Plans

Sea Level Trends
This lesson is designed as an introductory activity exploring one facet of global climate change. Students will access real scientific data to investigate and compare long-term changes in sea level from different coastal locations around the United States. (Grades 9-12; NGSS: HS-ESS3)

Rising Tides: Climate Change and the Sea
This lesson plan uses videos, NASA visualizations, and digital map projections to help students understand the connection between climate change and sea level rise. The lesson draws on the"Climate Refugees" story on the Powering a Nation website, and includes independent research and inquiry activities that allow students to explore sea level changes in North Carolina and around the world. (Grades: 9-12; NGSS: HS-ESS2, HS-ESS3; Common Core: LS2.2)

Paradise Lost: Chesapeake Bay and Sea Level Change Excelet Activity
Excelets are interactive Excel spreadsheets or simulations of mathematical models. The user changes a variable and the spreadsheet changes in numerical, graphical, and/or even symbolic form (equations). “Paradise Lost: Chesapeake Bay and Sea Level Change” allows students to examine the influence of sea level change on the region surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. (Grades 6-Undergrad NGSS: MS-ESS3, HS-ESS3) Click to view Real World: NASA and the Chesapeake Bay Video

5. Videos, Visualizations and Interactives

Changing Planet: Rising Sea Level
This video discusses the social and economic impacts (worldwide and in the US) of sea level rise caused by global warming (aired April 1, 2011). (Grades 6-Undergrad)

Climate Change at the Doorstep
This PBS video focuses on sea level rise in Norfolk, Virginia and how the residents are managing the logistical, financial and political implications. Science journalists who have been studying Norfolk's rising sea level problems are interviewed as well are local residents who are being impacted. (Grades 6-Undergrad)

Sea-Level Rise Visualization for Alabama, Mississippi, and FloridaThis is an interactive map that illustrates the scale of potential flooding in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida due to projected sea level rise. It is a collaborative project of NOAA Sea Grant Consortium and U.S.G.S. It is a pilot project, so there is some possibility that the resource may not be maintained over time (Grade 6-Undergrad)

Sea Level Viewer
Video and animations of sea level from NASA's Climate website. Since 1992, NASA and CNES have studied sea surface topography as a proxy for ocean temperatures. NASA Missions TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason 1 and Jason 2 have been useful in predicting major climate, weather, and geologic events including El Niño, La Nina, Hurricane Katrina, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami. (All levels)

NASA’s Eyes on the Earth
Explore a 3D visualization of Earth's vital signs, including recent data for air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sea level, ice and water.

NCA Key Message 2: Increasing Temperatures

visit the full Increasing Temperatures page

Increasing temperatures and the associated increase in frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme heat events will affect public health, natural and built environments, energy, agriculture, and forestry.

1. Guiding Questions

  • Identify already occurring and predicted health effects of rising temperatures. Explain how rising temperatures are connected to illnesses.
  • What are some of the effects of increasing temperatures on ocean ecology?
  • How can rising temperature affect agriculture, energy demands, and other resources in the southeast?

2. Key figures

Ground-level ozone
Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant that is harmful to human health and which generally increases with rising temperatures. The map shows projected changes in average annual ground level ozone pollution concentration in 2050 as compared to 2001, using a mid-range emissions scenario (A1B, which assumes gradual reductions from current emissions trends beginning around mid-century). (Figure source: adapted from Tagaris et al. 2009, 40)

Newer Simulations for Projected Temperature (CMIP5 models)
The largest uncertainty in projecting climate change beyond the next few decades is the level of heat-trapping gas emissions. The most recent model projections (CMIP5) take into account a wider range of options with regard to human behavior, including a lower scenario than has been considered before (RCP 2.6). This scenario assumes rapid reductions in emissions – more than 70% cuts from current levels by 2050 and further large decreases by 2100 – and the corresponding smaller amount of warming. On the higher end, the scenarios include one that assumes continued increases in emissions (RCP 8.5) and the corresponding greater amount of warming. Also shown are temperature changes for the intermediate scenarios RCP 4.5 (which is most similar to B1) and RCP 6.0 (which is most similar to A1B; see Appendix 3: Climate Science Supplement). Projections show change in average temperature in the later part of this century (2071-2099) relative to the late part of last century (1970-1999). (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

3. Other Resources

Risky Business: The Economic Risk of Climate Change in the United States - Southeast
What happens if we stay on our current “business as usual” path? Click to explore the most likely economic impacts of climate change on

NASA Earth Observatory Features: How Will Global Warming Change Earth?
The impact of increased surface temperatures is significant in itself. But global warming will have additional, far-reaching effects on the planet. Warming modifies rainfall patterns, amplifies coastal erosion, lengthens the growing season in some regions, melts ice caps and glaciers, and alters the ranges of some infectious diseases. Some of these changes are already occurring.

FutureCoast
This community-based, participatory “what if?” game explores the implications of our possible climate-changed futures. Can you create a voicemail that sounds as though it was recorded in 2021 or 2035 or 2048? In these voicemails, participants express how extreme weather, sea level rise, and changing ecosystems might affect their lives in the future. The FutureVoices section includes resources for further exploration of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

NASA’ Earth Observatory Features: The Ozone We Breathe
When we breathe air unpolluted by human activities, we usually take in about 10 to 15 parts of ozone per billion parts of air (10-15 ppb). However, pollution from human activities has elevated levels of the ozone we breathe. Surface ozone measurements have increased considerably since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, possibly by as much as 100-200 percent at some locations over the past century. (Fishman et al. 1999).

4. Lesson Plans

From Weather to Climate - Looking at Air Temperature Data (GLOBE Program)
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. In this activity, students work with short- and long-term air temperature data in order to better understand the differences between weather and climate. (Grade 6-12)

What is Your Climate Classification (GLOBE Program)
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program.This activity helps students become familiar with the Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification system. Students will also understand that climates can be broadly classified using a system that is based upon specific variables: air temperature and precipitation.

Investigating the Effects of Warmer Temperatures on Hurricanes
In this activity learners investigate the link between ocean temperatures and hurricane intensity, analyze instrumental and historical data, and explore possible future changes. (Grades 9-14)

Measuring the Temperature of the Sky and Clouds (My NASA DATA)
In this project you will learn about the greenhouse effect by measuring the temperature of the sky and clouds far overhead with an infrared thermometer. (Grades 9-undergrad)

Geographic Effects on Precipitation, Water Vapor, and Temperature (My NASA DATA)
Students have the opportunity to improve analytical and basic science skills by collecting, comparing, and analyzing atmospheric conditions between two geographic locations. (Grades 9-12)

The Changing Geographic Distribution of Malaria With Global Climate Warming
This activity engages students in the analysis of climate data to first find areas in the southern United States that are now close to having conditions in which the malaria parasite and its mosquito hosts thrive and then attempt to forecast when areas might become climatically suitable. (Grades 9-undergrad)

Tracking Ocean Ecology with Chlorophyll A (My NASA DATA)
Students become a member of an International Team of Marine Biologists and are tasked with predicting and monitoring possible harmful algae blooms using the data maps and guiding questions. (Grades 4-6)

Ozone: Good, Bad or Both
The lesson addresses the difference between good ozone and bad ozone, providing students with information regarding factors that cause the formation of bad ozone and the depletion of good ozone. (Grades 6-8)

Extension Activities

NASA y Tú (NASA and You) English/Spanish Education

Find videos and interviews with NASA’s Hispanic Community, background information and educator resources.

Climate Science Investigations (CSI): Energy the Driver of Climate
This online interactive allows students to calcualte fluxes in incoming and outgoing radiation and better understand Earth’s Energy Budget.

NASA Energy Budget Resources
This website includes printable posters, interactives and links to related Radiation Budget animations and explanations. Choose your own reverse sections for the back of the poster.

Ozone: Good Up High, Bad Nearby Game Board and Pieces
(click on plus under informal activities)

Use this game as a board game or a presentation to have students understand what factors cause ozone nearby and the benefits of having ozone up high. (Grades: All levels)

NASA’s Student Clouds’ Observations On-Line (S’COOL) Project
The S'COOL Project involves students in real science, making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) satellite instruments studying how clouds may affect the Earth’s climate. (Grades 1-Undergrad)

Videos, Visualizations and Interactives

Real World: NASA and the Chesapeake Bay Video
Learn how NASA uses Earth observing satellites to monitor conditions in the Chesapeake Bay over time. Information about pollution, eutrophication, land cover and watershed runoff helps water managers enact policies to improve the health of the Bay.

Adapting to New Normals: The Heat is On
This video describes the impact of extreme heat on Philadelphia in the summer of 2011 and how the city is adapting to new expectations about its weather. It uses this example to introduce the new national climate normals, released by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) that summer. (Grades 6-12)

Changing Planet: Withering Crops
This video examines what will happen to crops as Earth's temperature rises and soils dry out because of changing climate. Students learn that a loss of soil moisture causes stress to plants, leading to crop withering. Since humans and animals depend directly or indirectly on plants for food, many societal problems can be expected to arise due to the impact of climate warming on crops and the societies that depend on them. (Grades 6-12)

Science for a Hungry World: Agriculture and Climate Change
This NASA video explores the relationship between climate and agriculture, including the variability of climate change impacts that may occur in different regions and the effects of population growth and higher demands for food in areas that already struggle to supply food for the people. The video highlights the need for accurate, continuous, and accessible data and computer models from NASA satellites to track and predict the challenges farmers face as they adjust to a changing climate.

NASA’s State of Flux: Images of Change
Explore a gallery of images of different locations on planet Earth, showing change over time periods ranging from centuries to days. The images include changes in water and human impact for different locations. Use the map view to zone in on a particular area.

NASA’s Eyes on the Earth
Explore a 3D visualization of Earth's vital signs, including recent data for air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sea level, ice and water.

NCA Key Message 3: Water Availability

visit the full Water Availability page

Decreased water availability, exacerbated by population growth and land-use change, will continue to increase competition for water and affect the region’s economy and unique ecosystems.

1. Guiding Questions

  • In what ways is water essential economies of Southeast communities? Explain how changes in water availability can have strong negative effects.
  • How do rising sea levels affect water availability? Explain the effects of rising sea level on agriculture as well as fresh water supply.

2. Key figures

Trends in Water Availability
Left: Projected trend in Southeast-wide annual water yield (equivalent to water availability) due to climate change. The green area represents the range in predicted water yield from four climate model projections based on the A1B and B2 emissions scenarios. Right: Spatial pattern of change in water yield for 2010-2060 (decadal trend relative to 2010). The hatched areas are those where the predicted negative trend in water availability associated with the range of climate scenarios is statistically significant (with 95% confidence). As shown on the map, the western part of the Southeast region is expected to see the largest reductions in water availability. (Figure source: adapted from Sun et al. 2013, 84)

A Southeast River Basin Under Stress
The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin in Georgia exemplifies a place where many water uses are in conflict, and future climate change is expected to exacerbate this conflict 82. The basin drains 19,600 square miles in three states and supplies water for multiple, often competing, uses, including irrigation, drinking water and other municipal uses, power plant cooling, navigation, hydropower, recreation, and ecosystems. Under future climate change, this basin is likely to experience more severe water supply shortages, more frequent emptying of reservoirs, violation of environmental flow requirements (with possible impacts to fisheries at the mouth of the Apalachicola), less energy generation, and more competition for remaining water. Adaptation options include changes in reservoir storage and release procedures and possible phased expansion of reservoir capacity 82,85,86. Additional adaptation options could include water conservation and demand management. (Figure source: Georgakakos et al. 2010, 82).

3. Other Resources

NASA’s Earth Observatory Feature: The Water Cycle and Climate Change
Among the most serious Earth science and environmental policy issues confronting society are the potential changes in the Earth’s water cycle due to climate change. The science community now generally agrees that the Earth’s climate is undergoing changes in response to natural variability, including solar variability, and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Furthermore, agreement is widespread that these changes may profoundly affect atmospheric water vapor concentrations, clouds, precipitation patterns, and runoff and stream flow patterns.

U.S. Drought Portal
The portal is part of the interactive system to:

  • Provide early warning about emerging and anticipated droughts
  • Assimilate and quality control data about droughts and models
  • Provide information about risk and impact of droughts to different agencies and stakeholders
  • Provide information about past droughts for comparison and to understand current conditions
  • Explain how to plan for and manage the impacts of droughts
  • Provide a forum for different stakeholders to discuss drought-related issues

4. Lesson Plans

Water Filtration System Engineering Design Challenge
This lesson challenges students to create and test a water filtering system. The activities in this lesson focus on water recovery and management.(Grades: 7-9, MS-ETS1)

GRACE: Tracking Water from Space Video and Classroom Activity
Grace: Tracking Water From Space shows how a pair of satellites effectively "weigh" Earth's shifting water resources month by month, and what this reveals about the impact of climate change on the planet's vast tracts of freshwater, saltwater, and ice. This Classroom Discussion Activity can be used to connect your students to the process of science, highlight overarching scientific themes, and enhance comprehension of the story.

Sally Reid EarthKAM Activities: How have people affected our planet?
A Lot of a Little? -- In this whole-class activity, students investigate how much of Earth's water is drinkable. (Grades 5-8)

The Incredible Shrinking Lake -- Student groups analyze satellite photos of Lake Chad and infer what has caused changes in the lake. (Grades 5-8)

How Much Water is Available in the Atmosphere for Precipitation (My NASA DATA)
Students have the opportunity to explore the relationship between the amount of water in the atmosphere available for precipitation and the actual precipitation observed by satellite. (Grades 7-12)

Investigating Weather and Climate With Google Earth
In this activity, students use Google Earth to explore global temperature changes during a recent 50 - 58 year period. They also explore, analyze, and interpret climate patterns of 13 different cities, and analyze differences between weather and climate patterns. (Grades 6-12).

Hot, Cold, Fresh and Salty
In this activity, learners observe the effects of the layering of warm and cold water and water that is more or less saline than regular water. They will discover how the effects of salinity and temperature are the root cause of thermohaline layering in the ocean. (Grades 9-12)

Extension Activities

NASA’s Student Clouds’ Observations On-Line (S’COOL) Project
The S'COOL Project involves students in real science, making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) satellite instruments studying how clouds may affect the Earth’s climate. (Grades 1-Undergrad)

4. Videos, Visualizations and Interactives

GRACE: Tracking Water from Space Video
Grace: Tracking Water From Space shows how a pair of satellites effectively "weigh" Earth's shifting water resources month by month, and what this reveals about the impact of climate change on the planet's vast tracts of freshwater, saltwater, and ice.

Water Underground Visualization
Drought stressed the groundwater stores of the southern United States in 2011 and 2012. Climate change is predicted to make drought more frequent in the southern United States, putting a strain on groundwater resources. This visualization reveals the freshwater stores that NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite detects from space and shows how that data can be used to evaluate groundwater gains and losses, critical information in the effort to conserve the water that people depend upon.

Water Cycle - Featuring Molecule Man!
This video uses a combination of cartoon characters, a scientist, and a series of different Earth-observing satellites with data animations to teach the various parts of the water cycle and human impacts on the water cycle.

Water, Water Everywhere!
This video explains what the water cycle is. how important it is to life on earth and human impacts on the water cycle.

NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement: Too Much, Too Little
Researchers need accurate and timely rainfall information to better understand and model where and when severe floods, frequent landslides and devastating droughts may occur, and GPM’s global rainfall data will help provide that information.

For Good Measure
The short video "For Good Measure" explains why scientists turn to satellites to get a worldwide view of rainfall. The video walks through how rain touches our lives and how scientists plan to improve measurements with the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement mission.

Changing Planet: Rising Sea Level
This video discusses the social and economic impacts (worldwide and in the US) of sea level rise caused by global warming (aired April 1, 2011). (Grades 6-Undergrad)

NASA’s Eyes on the Earth
Explore a 3D visualization of Earth's vital signs, including recent data for air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sea level, ice and water.