Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.


Massive split in Antarctic ice shelf draws attention, but not alarm, from glacier experts

Read news from another continent (besides Antarctica and North America) and share two points of interest.
Summarize an article about any area of Earth science, such as weather, biology or ecology.
Identify another "gee-whiz" topic in the news. Does it use superlatives similar to humungous and behemoth?

An iceberg as big some states has fallen off Antarctica's main ice shelf and is drifting away from a peninsula on that remote continent. It's the most dramatic example so far of an ongoing phenomenon: Floating ice shelves in that area of the South Pole are splitting as a powerful wave pushes warm water onto them. The separation disclosed this month creates a new iceberg measuring 2,240 square miles (nearly the size of Delaware) and estimated to weigh more than a trillion tons. Truthfully, we also have no idea exactly how heavy that is – but it sounds like a lot. One news article uses the word humungous and another goes with behemoth.

The highest rates of glacial ice loss affect western shores of the Antarctic Peninsula, and scientists are working to understand why. One expert, Adrian Luckman of Wales in the United Kingdom, writes at Scientific American’s website that "despite the media and public fascination, the [recent break] and iceberg 'calving' is not a warning of imminent sea level rise." The Welsh professor describes the massive new split as "a spectacular episode," and warns against jumping to conclusions: "Any link to climate change is far from straightforward." That's echoed by Anna Hogg at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds, also in the U.K. "At this point it would be premature to say that this was caused by global warming," she says.

The big break-off was revealed in a NASA satellite image. The United States and the European Space Agency have been monitoring the shelf, and their dramatic pictures of the split raised interest beyond the scientific community. Even if man-made global warming isn't necessarily a direct cause, specialists worry that drifting icebergs may raise ocean levels by melting more rapidly than the Antarctic ice shelf and glaciers. "This would be disastrous for coastal regions and displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide," suggests an Australian researcher, Paul Spence at the University of New South Wales.

Scientist says: "We've been surprised by the level of interest in what may simply be a rare but natural occurrence." – Adrian Luckman, professor glaciology at Swansea University in Wales, United Kingdom

What is glaciology? The scientific study of glaciers and natural phenomena that involve ice. It integrates geophysics, geology, physical geography, climatology, meteorology, hydrology, biology and ecology. .

Antarctica facts: Earth's southernmost continent contains the South Pole and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 5.4 million square miles, it's the fifth-largest continent -- nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98 percent is covered by ice 1.2 miles deep, on average. It's the coldest, driest and windiest continent, with the highest average elevation.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2017
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