Module 5 - The Effects of Climate Change on the Watershed


The Effects of Climate Change on the Watershed (Module 5) is designed to guide students as they discover the consequences may occur to areas within the watershed as a result from climate change in the region. The learning experiences (LEs) are based on real scenarios within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The scenarios include examples of drastic changes in habitat, wildlife and the ability of the islands located in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to sustain continued human activity. Students are encouraged to locate and study similar situations that exist in their home watershed. 

In Move, Adapt or Die, Scenario A, students play the role of biologists fromthe West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Students research what is known about the hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiesis) as a bioindicator species of the effects of climate change and present their findings to their classmates. Students consider the future of the hellbender in West Virginia’s streams and predict what may happen to its home ecosystem if the hellbender disappears. The final challenge of the scenario asks students to apply what they have learned to the future of a species in their home region.  

Can We Save Smith Island, Scenario B, addresses the rising water levels of the world’s oceans and increasing number of intense storms brought on by global climate change. These factors, coupled with post-glacial subsidence, threaten the continued existence of Smith Island located in the lower area of the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Maryland. Students role play the part of residents of Smith Island, whose families have lived on the island since the seventeenth century.  Students are challenged to observe the effects of the rising waters and erosion on the island’s coastline using historic maps and satellite imaging, research the fate of other previously inhabited islands in the Chesapeake Bay, and predict future changes to the island and its inhabitants that is based on historical data. Students will explore the mitigating efforts of residents who construct bulkheads and plant marsh grasses in an effort to hold back the rising waters. The students’ final assignment is to examine the effects of climate change in their home region.