NASA Will Launch ICESat2 into Space September 15th to Track Earth’s Melting Ice

The ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite) mission is designed to measure the depth of Earths sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets. The satellite will carry a single photon counting altimeter called the ATLAS (Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System).

ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite)

Why does Sea Ice Melt Matter?

Engaging Students in STEM Real World problem Solving.  

As an educator, I see one of my most important challenges is to engage students in real world problem solving.  If you want to get them engaged in their learning ask them to find credible solutions to a problem that has societal and future implications. There are criteria for successful PBL (Problem Based Learning Lesson).

  1. The problem must impact people’s lives. There must be compelling data and evidence to argue for the solution.
  2. Students must be able to relate to the issue. Build the context by using their own life experiences, videos and images.
  3. Students must have access to the resources to explore the problem and their solutions.
  4. It should align with the standards. What do you want them to learn?

Students might see climate change and sea ice loss as a future threat. Something they do not have to worry about now.  NASA’s educational resources will help you to engage them in the real measurable consequences of climate change.  Let’s look at 5 reasons why arctic sea ice matters and some resources for educators and students to use to explore the reasons.

    1. It Reflects Light

Sea ice is white which reflects most of the sunlight back to space.  In its absence, the ocean gets warmer. As the ocean waters get warmer, they melt more ice, causing a loop.


NASA ClimateBits: Albedo

Lesson Plans:

Global Ocean Warming: 8 Lessons on the Energy Flow

    1. It affects ocean current patterns and circulation

This drives weather patterns. The sinking and floating of the different temperatures and salinity of the water impact the change.


NASA The Thermocline Circulation (The Graet Ocean Conveyor Belt)

The Water Cycle: Heating the Ocean

Lesson Plans:

My NASA Data: Ocean Currents and Sea Surface Temperature

Precipitation Education: Climate Change Inquiry Lab: 3 Inquiry based  science activities.

Modeling Sea Ice and Temperature Lab:

    1. It contains frozen deposits of methane which if released increases greenhouse gas problems.


Global warming- How Humans are Affecting our Planet

Lesson Plans:

Making a Greenhouse:

Get your Gummy Greenhouse Gases (molecular modeling)

Kid Friendly literature

Climate Kids: What is the greenhouse effect?

    1. It supports Native People

Nearly 180 Alaskan Native Communities have been identified as in danger of having to relocate. Loss of land and food sources  cause tensions in the Inuit


Why Lost Sea Ice Means Lost Hope for an Inuit Village

Lesson plan:

Seashores on the move

GLOBE Climate Module

    1. It supports native wildlife:

Arctic seals, wolves, migrating caribou, polar bears and walruses are all affected.

Lesson plans:

My NASA Data: The March of the Polar Bears

My NASA Data: Evidence of Change Near the Arctic Circle

Susan Kohler
Educator Professional Development Specialist, NASA STEM EPDC
Glenn Research Center