Worksheet 1: Drivers of Sea Level Change

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This resource looks at the two main drivers of sea level change - isostasy and eustasy. Each of these terms is explained and a worksheet covers both ideas in three practical demonstrations.

In the first practical, which includes both isostasy and eustasy, students undertake experiments which prove that water level does not rise significantly as ice cubes melt.

The second practical is a demonstration of isostasy, showing how as land based ice melts, its weight on the land reduces and therefore the land slowly springs up. Similarly as an ice sheet grows, its weight depresses the land. This land-level change causes changes in sea level at the coast.

The third practical looks at relative sea change which is due to a combination of isostasy and eustasy and is affected by the speed and direction of the change.

This resource was produced by the Geography Department at the University of Durham.

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