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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 3 minutes, 34 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

The Climate Tipping Points that Could Change the Earth Forever

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  • This video discusses the concept of tipping points, specifically with regard to permafrost melting, melting ice sheets, and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. 
  • They use a glass of water that is slowly tipped to one side until it falls over as a visual representation of ecological tipping points. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video is brief and does a nice job of simplifying the concept of positive feedback loops and ecological tipping points related to climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There may be a commercial before the video.
  • It may be beneficial to activate prior knowledge about the albedo effect, the density of water at different temperatures, and the production of carbon dioxide from cellular respiration and decomposition.


  • Science classes could set up their own model demonstration of a tipping point to illustrate the idea or run an albedo experiment using identical objects of different colors to see differences in temperature increase in direct sunlight.
  • Social studies classes could discuss the human toll and impacts on societies in various locations if we cross these tipping points.
  • Other resources related to this topic are this video about ecosystems and this resource about melting permafrost. 
Scientist Notes
Tipping points in climate science do exist, and this video resource explains how they happen. Additionally, the video is linked to a thoroughly researched article for more information. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
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