water dripping off ice melting in the arctic

Climate & Water Teaching Box

Recent climate change is already having impacts - from melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers, to the lack of rainfall in the southwest and central United States, and the impacts of sea level rise on coasts worldwide. This teaching box is filled with explorations and readings that help secondary students learn how climate change is affecting the water cycle.

Teaching Boxes are themed collections of classroom-ready educational resources to build student understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Resources highlighted within teaching boxes are from various science education programs and all have been vetted by the education team at the UCAR Center for Science Education.

  • Topic: Climate & Water
  • Level: Middle and high school
  • How to use this resource: This teaching box is designed to foster understanding of the impacts of climate change on aspects of the water cycle. The first part (The Big Picture) provides an overview and should be covered first. Subsequent parts can be used as time allows and in any order. Note that there are other aspects of how climate change impacts water that are not covered in this teaching box including extreme precipitation and flooding, ocean acidification, permafrost thaw, and changes to ice shelves and sea ice.

The Big Picture

Students learn that climate change and its impacts are already being observed.

Melting Glaciers

Students learn that alpine glaciers are shrinking due to warmer atmospheric temperatures associated with climate change

Sea Level Rise

Students learn how projected sea level rise threatens coastal areas.

Less Rainfall

Students learn that droughts, increasing in intensity due to climate change, impact people in the United States.

Dwindling Sea Ice

Students learn that Arctic sea ice is shrinking due to warmer atmospheric and ocean temperatures as well as the ice-albedo feedback.