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This is a global warming lesson disguised as a measurement conversion worksheet


Math, Science, Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Global Warming – Math Conversion Review Problems
By – Frank Virzi
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects – Math, Social Studies
Grade Level – 9-12


Global Warming – Math Conversion Review Problems

1. The Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is estimated to be contributing to about 0.5 mm to overall sea level rise, which averages 3 mm per year. What percent of the total rise in sea level is caused by melting of Greenland’s ice?


2. Researchers Eric Rignot and Pannir Kanagaratnam estimated that the overall mass loss of Greenland’s Ice Sheet has increased from 21 cubic miles per year in 1996 to 54 cubic miles per year in 2005.

(a) How many gallons are there in 54 cubic miles of water?
(b) How many more gallons of water per year is melting from Greenland in 2005 than was melting per year in 1996?
Use the following information: 1 cubic mile = 4.168 billion cubic meters; 1 cubic meter = 264.2 gallons

(b) ______________________gallons

3. The Greenland Ice Sheet has an area of 1.7 million square kilometers (about the size of Mexico). How many square kilometers is this? 1 mile = 1.609 kilometer

ANSWER__________________________ square miles

4. The City of Los Angeles uses about one cubic mile of freshwater per year. How many gallons is this?

ANSWER__________________________ gallons

5. Ruth Curry of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Cecilie Mauritzen, an oceanographer at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, analyzed data collected in the North Atlantic Ocean between Labrador, Greenland and northern Europe over the last 55 years to reconstruct the history of ocean properties such as temperature, salinity and density. In an average year, about 5,000 cubic kilometers of fresh water flows from the Arctic into the North Atlantic through passages located east and west of Greenland. The researchers estimate that in addition to this amount, an extra 19,000 cubic km flowed into and diluted the northern seas over the 30 – year time period between 1965 and 1995. 1 cubic kilometer = 1 billion cubic meters

(a) How many gallons of water are there in 5,000 cubic kilometers?


ANSWER ___________________________ gallons

(b) How many gallons are there in 19,000 cubic kilometers?

ANSWER ____________________________ gallons

6. Harry Bryden of the National Oceanography Center at the University of Southampton measured the rate of flow of the Gulf Stream using data that he collected from an array of instruments anchored at 22 mooring, nine of which are positioned east of the Bahamas, four in the mid-Atlantic and nine across the continental slope of east Africa. The rate of ocean flow is measured in Sverdrups (Sv); a flow rate of 1 Sv = one million cubic meters per second. Bryden found that in 1992 the rate of flow was about 20 Sv, and in 2004 it had fallen to 14 Sv.

(a) By how many Sv did the Gulf Stream’s flow rate decrease from 1992 to 2004?

ANSWER__________________________ Sv

(b) In 2004, how many additional meters of water would have to flow per second in order for the Gulf Stream’s flow rate to be what it was in 1992?

ANSWER_______________________________ meters per second

(c) What was the 1992 flow rate of the Gulf Stream in gallons per year?


ANSWER_______________________________ gallons per year

“Changes in the Velocity Structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet” by Eric Rignot and Pannir Kanagaratnam, Science 17 February 2006:Vol. 311. no. 5763, pp. 986 – 990.
“Dilution of the Northern North Atlantic Ocean in Recent Decades” by Ruth Curry and Cecilie Mauritzen Science, 17 June 2005 Vol 308.
“Slowing of the Atlantic Overturning Circulation at 26 Degrees North” by Bryden H.L., Longworth H.R. and Cunningham S.A. Nature, Volume 438, pp 655-657.

1. About 17 %
2.(a) about 5.95 X 10^13 gallons
2.(b) about 3.63 X 10^13 gallons
3. About 656,000 square miles
4. About 1.1 X 10^12 gallons
5.(a) about 1.3 X 10 ^ 15 gallons
5.(b) about 5.02 X 10 ^ 15 gallons
6.(a) 6 Sv
6.(b) 6 million
6.(c) 1.67 X 10^17 gallons/year

Here are three short (3-5 minute) NPR pieces available online that feature the scientists mentioned in the above questions:

NPR – All Things Considered, June 16, 2005
“As Fresh Water Hits Atlantic, Climate Changes”
by Richard Harris

NPR – Morning Edition, February 17, 2006
“Study: Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Thought” by Richard Harris

NPR – All Things Considered, November 30, 2005
“Atlantic Ocean’s ‘Heat Engine’ Chills Down” by Christopher Joyce

E-Mail Frank Virzi !

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