is the focus of this module?
This module prompts students to address coral reef destruction and think about biodiversity worldwide. Students identify possible sources of coral reef destruction, examine conflicting evidence, evaluate possible courses of action, and make recommendations. As they do this, students look at man's impact on the global environment.
is the compelling problem that students will face in this module?
Middle School Scenario: Is the cumulative weight of human activities changing the environment and destroying coral reefsone of Earths last great areas of biodiversity?
High School Scenario: What are the pros and cons of artificial reefsare they effective in preserving biodiversity that can be lost when natural coral reefs are destroyed?
issues will students encounter as they work through this module?
Students will encounter a variety of issues related to decision making and coral reef destruction. They will learn about the water quality parameters in which coral liveand die:
- Oxygen content and biological oxygen demand (BOD)
- Total suspended solids (TSS)
Students will also learn about natural and human influences on coral reefs:
- Coral diseases
- Coral bleaching
- Poor fishing practices (overfishing and hazardous fishing methods, including dynamiting and cyanide poisoning)
- Runoff and other forms of water pollution
- Human waste management (how sewage and water are treated)
- Eutrophication (the effects of increased nutrients)
- Increased temperatures (the effects of El Niño as well as human-induced thermal pollution)
- Global climate change (the effects on water temperature and depth)
- Soil erosion (the effects of sedimentation and turbidity)
- Costal development and overbuilding
In addition, students will learn about the following topics that relate to the importance of protecting and promoting coral reefs as well as laws, guidelines, and suggestions for doing so:
- Biodiversity and gene pools
- Species extinction
- Laws governing coral reefs
- Economic factors relating to coral reefs
- Coral reef management
is the role of remote sensing in this module?
Remote sensing images can provide significant amounts of information to evaluate the health of coral reefs, but
they're frequently difficult to interpret. This imagery must be looked at over periods of time. Differences in cloud cover as well as atmospheric dust and moisture are some of the things that vary quite a bit and might affect the satellite imagery. By looking at several different types of satellite imagery over a period of time, scientists can usually make some conclusions about the health of a coral reef.
Sea surface temperatures are also important in this scenario. There are several remotely sensed parameters that are used to monitor the El Niño southern oscillation. This refers to the simultaneous change in sea level atmospheric pressure patterns (southern oscillation) and water temperatures (El Niño) that occurs in the South Pacific Ocean. Two remote sensing activities related to sea surface temperature anomalies are in the Exploring the Environment® module, El Niño: The Child Returns.
The sea-viewing wide field-of-view sensor (SeaWIFS) is a satellite-carried sensor that has provided remotely sensed imagery for the past few years. By sensing ocean color, it can detect the growth of microscopic oceanic plants called phytoplankton, which play an important role in the carbon cycle. More chlorophyll being present also means more phytoplankton is present. SeaWIFS can also detect the growth of algal blooms. Along with the advanced very high resolution radiometer instrument on weather satellites, SeaWIFS is an important tool in assessing coral health. Here are some SeaWIFS resources:
SeaWIFS Project: Satellite imaging of ocean areas.
SeaWIFS Project: Technical report series: An overview of SeaWIFS and ocean color.
is remote sensing used in this module?
are introduced to the concept of remote sensing and its application
in meteorology (the study of weather) and agriculture. Students
will be able to examine satellite and radar images of clouds and
rain. They will also be able to examine "greenness" images
that display the distribution of vegetation, such as crops, at various
times throughout the year.
In addition, students
will learn about climate modeling. They will learn how climatologists
study current weather patterns and concentrations of atmospheric
gases to make predictions of future weather patterns and atmospheric
Preparation ChecklistHave you thought of everything?