This teaching activity addresses environmental stresses on corals. Students assess coral bleaching using water temperature data from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. Students learn about the habitat of corals, the stresses on coral populations, and the impact of increased sea surface temperatures on coral reefs. In a discussion section, the connection between coral bleaching and global warming is drawn.
In this video, students learn that the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989 was not the sole cause of the decline of species in the local ecosystem. Rather, an explanation is posited for why some animal populations were already in decline when the spill occurred. Many of these animals share a common food: the sand lance, a fish whose populations have shrunk with the steady rise in ocean temperature that began in the late 1970s.
This activity identifies and explains the benefits of and threats to coral reef systems. Students read tutorials, describe the role of satellites, analyze oceanographic data and identify actions that can be undertaken to reduce or eliminate threats to coral reefs. As a culminating activity, students prepare a public education program.
This narrated slide show gives a brief overview of coral biology and how coral reefs are in danger from pollution, ocean temperature change, ocean acidification, and climate change. In addition, scientists discuss how taking cores from corals yields information on past changes in ocean temperature.
This is a photo essay linked to a New York Times story about climate-related stressors on forests -- including mountain pine beetles, forest fires, forest clearance, and ice storms -- and the importance of protecting forests as an important carbon sink.