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Coastal Heritage Curriculum Connection

Explore Curriculum Connection guides, which are written to accompany each issue of Coastal Heritage, a quarterly publication of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Coastal Heritage, Spring/Summer 2013 issue: Climate Change and Extreme Weather

Focus Questions

  • What are some of the effects of rising temperatures as they pertain to the ocean? What are some of the major initiatives being explored to combat rising temperatures?
  • Describe the fluctuations in Earth’s climate history with respect to interglacial and glacial (ice age) periods. How does the Earth’s wobble contribute?
  • How are steroids used to describe carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases?  
  • Describe how sea-level rise and hurricanes might be related.

Use the Curriculum Connection to address these South Carolina Standards

4th Grade: Weather
4-4.3: Summarize the conditions and effects of severe weather phenomena (including thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes) and related safety concerns.

5th Grade: Ecosystems: Terrestrial and Aquatic

5-2.3: Compare the characteristics of different ecosystems (including estuaries/salt marshes, oceans, lakes and ponds, forests, and grasslands).

5th Grade: Landforms and Oceans

5-3.4: Explain how waves, currents, tides, and storms affect the geologic features of the ocean shore zone (including beaches, barrier islands, estuaries, and inlets).

5-3.6: Explain how human activity (including conservation efforts and pollution) has affected the land and the oceans of Earth.

7th Grade: Physical Science 

7-5.3: Distinguish between acids and bases and use indicators (including litmus paper, pH paper, and phenolphthalein) to determine their relative pH.

9th – 12th: Biology

B-6.1: Explain how the interrelationships among organisms (including predation, competition, parasitism, mutualism, and commensalism) generate stability within ecosystems.

B-6.6: Explain how human activities (including population growth, technology, and consumption of resources) affect the physical and chemical cycles and processes of Earth.

9th – 12th: Earth’s Atmosphere
ES-4.7: Summarize the evidence for the likely impact of human activities on the atmosphere (including ozone holes, greenhouse gases, acid rain, and photochemical smog).

ES-5.7: Explain the effects of the transfer of solar energy and geothermal energy on the oceans of Earth (including the circulation of ocean currents and chemosynthesis).

9th – 12th: Physics

P-10.4: Explain thermal expansion in solids, liquids, and gases in terms of kinetic theory and the unique behavior of water.

Lesson Links

Climate Change Resources and Activities: COSEE SE
Check out the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast (COSEE SE) webpage dedicated to climate change activities suitable for a range of grade levels and topics varying from paleoclimate activities to investigating sea-level rise. Visit for a wealth of climate change activities and lessons! (K-12th)

The Key to Understanding: Ocean Observing
In order to understand the changes in our world’s oceans, continuous monitoring assists scientists in identifying trends, changes, abnormalities, etc., and correlating these with other biotic and abiotic aspects. The Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association provides hourly data on water temperature, air temperature, salinity, waves, currents and more! This site has information on educational posters and resources for classrooms. (6th-12th)

CRESIS: The Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets
The melting of polar ice is one of the major contributors to sea-level rise. The CReSIS program provides information relevant to both researchers and educators on the state of ice sheets and potential impacts of their shrinking. Educators should check out the website at to access links to both research and education resources. Located under the Educator section are a series of lessons, “Ice, Ice Baby,” suitable for grades K-8 and features the PolarTREC teacher blogs. Visit the site for posters, the book of the month, and more! (K-12th)

NASA, Satellites, and Climate Change

Increased temperatures are causing sea level to rise and are also causing the sea- surface temperatures to increase. Hurricanes are cause for concern along the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico, and communities will have greater impacts based on these two changes. Check out the My NASA Data site for lesson plans related to sea-surface temperature changes and other climate change-related topics. Go to . (6th – 12th)

Carbon Cycle
Carbon moves from one area of Earth to another – often taking millions of years to be released once absorbed. The amount of carbon on Earth does not change; however, the levels found in the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere changes. The Carbon Cycle Game is an interactive web-based lesson that shows how carbon is released and absorbed through man-made and natural processes. Go to and travel around with carbon! (4th  – 9th)

“The Effect of Sea-Level Rise on Marshes”
Salt marsh retreat and drowning are common ecological responses to rising sea levels. Explore the impact on sea-level rise with this activity from the University of Rhode Island: .  (6th – 12th)

NOAA Coastal Services Center: Community Impact
Visit the NOAA Coastal Services Center website for information on how local communities are addressing climate change issues like sea-level rise. Check out the project, Digital Coast, to see how information is being used to predict the impacts of sea-level rise along our coast. Visit for more information on trainings and resources. (9th-12th).