Hydrosphere: Surface Water

Dynamic Wetlands

Learn about the importance of wet and dry seasons in wetland ecology. Students will learn to understand the wetlands as precious ecosystems.

Groundwater on the Move

The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

Humans and Water, Past to Present

Humans use lots of water. We need it for various activities, including agriculture, transport, washing, and recreation. Most important, we need to drink fresh water to stay alive. Today, in many regions around the world, fresh water comes straight to where we need it. But in some places, people must carry gallons of water from the closest stream, river, lake, or well to their homes.

Identifying Your Watershed

The goal of this activity is to identify the watershed you live in, the source of water you use at home and the pathway of surface water runoff in your watershed.

Measuring Glacial Retreat

The USGS has been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park since 1850. It is estimated that there were 150 glaciers in the park back then, and when the national park was established in 1910. Today only 25 glaciers remain.

 Scientists go back every year to repeat photographs, as well as to examine the ice and the ecology of the landscape to see how glacial retreat is affecting plant and animal species that live there.

Monitoring Life in the Rocky Intertidal Ecosystem

The five national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast monitor the health of the rocky intertidal ecosystem. One way of doing this is to collect data on the relative abundance of the organisms living in that ecosystem. Since this is such a big task, the national marine sanctuaries are training students in how to follow standardized protocols to help with the monitoring. The information collected is added to an online database that the sanctuaries use to collect baseline data and track long-term changes in the environment. This activity will allow you to learn the sampling techniques used in the field by these citizen scientists who participate in LiMPETS.

Mystery Mollusc

Pretend to be a biologist as you 'discover' a new mollusc species and work to determine it's characteristics and habitat.

Ocean Acidification

The ocean is a “carbon sink,” which means that it removes CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. The ocean currently absorbs about one-third of the CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels.

However, beyond a certain level of atmospheric CO2, the ocean can no longer act as a carbon sink without it having a negative impact on marine life. When CO2 dissolves in seawater, it leads to decreased pH levels. The ocean becomes less alkaline. This is referred to as ocean acidification.

Properties of Fresh Water and Sea Water

The students will set up three demonstrations to observe the properties of water. They will explore the boiling point of water, the freezing point of water, and the ability of water to store heat. These activities can be done individually or as a set.

Rain and Soil

When it rains, much of the water drains directly into the ground. But why?

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