The Himalaya—the mountain range that includes the world's highest peak, Mount Everest—act as a “water tower” providing water to more than 1.5 billion people. To better understand this critical water source, National Geographic explorers embarked on an expedition to collect field data. In this unit, students explore the impact of human activity on local and global water resources while exploring video, maps, and photographs from the Extreme Expedition to Mount Everest. They interact with real-time weather data transmitted from the two highest operating weather stations in the world.

 

Students analyze the water use and geospatial data for specific regions of the United States and Mount Everest. After exploring issues related to the supply and demand of water, students construct an evidence-based argument explaining how increases in human population and consumption of resources have impacted Mount Everest's glaciers and snowpack, as well as the water supply in other parts of the world. As a final project, students create an artistic model that illustrates the ripple effect that human impact can have on water security.

 

Use this unit at a glance to explore a brief outline of the materials included in this resource.

2 hrs 30 mins

Students compare their own tap water use in light of global freshwater access to develop an understanding of water security. They learn how watersheds work, locate their local watershed, then turn their attention to the importance of Mount Everest’s watershed and the people who rely on it. They use a variety of resources to learn about key sources of freshwater. Finally, students collect evidence connecting Mount Everest’s ice to water security by exploring maps, analyzing graphs and infographics, reading articles, and more. This lesson is part of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply  unit.

3 hrs

Guided by the National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition to Mount Everest in 2019, students explore the relationship among reduced snowpack, human population, and water security, and how Everest climbers impact watersheds. They explore real-time weather data from the highest operating weather stations in the world, analyze infographics, and engage with interactive maps and graphs. Students write a scientific argument linking human population to freshwater supply and learn how waste can be upcycled into art, in preparation for creating their final project. This lesson is part of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit.

3 hrs 40 mins

Students learn about droughts and the link between climate change and water access through videos, readings, and discussions. They then brainstorm how to avoid a “Day Zero” in their watershed and how Mount Everest mountaineers can help protect the mountain's watershed. Students draw from their Project Journals to create and present an artistic model and supporting scientific argument illustrating how humans impact water security. This lesson is part of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit.

Noun

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

Noun

an underground layer of rock or earth which holds groundwater.

argument
Noun

reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.

barometric pressure
Noun

atmospheric pressure as read by a barometer.

claim
Verb

to state as the truth.

Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

Noun

gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

domestic
Adjective

having to do with the day to day activities and upkeep of a personal residence such as a house, apartment, farm, or other estate.

drainage basin
Noun

an entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries. Also called a watershed.

Noun

period of greatly reduced precipitation.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

freshwater
Noun

water that is not salty.

Ganges River
Noun

(2,495 kilometers/1,550 miles) river in South Asia that originates in the Himalaya and empties into the Bay of Bengal. Also called the Ganga.

Gangotri Glacier
Noun

large glacier in the Himalaya Mountains, the source of the Ganges (Ganga) River.

Noun

mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

Noun

water found in an aquifer.

headwater
Noun

source of a river.

Himalaya Mountains
Noun

mountain range between India and Nepal.

hydrological
Adjective

having to do with the study of water.

industry
Noun

activity that produces goods and services.

inequality
Noun

difference in size, amount, or quality between two or more things.

Noun

watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.

Noun

body of water surrounded by land.

Mount Everest
Noun

highest spot on Earth, approximately 8,850 meters (29,035 feet). Mount Everest is part of the Himalaya and straddles the border of Nepal and China.

population density
Noun

the number of people living in a set area, such as a square mile.

reasoning
Noun

process of using evidence to make inferences or conclusions using logic.

relative humidity
Noun

ratio between the amount of water vapor in the air and the air's saturation point. Relative humidity is expressed as a percentage.

Noun

natural or man-made lake.

Noun

large stream of flowing fresh water.

river basin
Noun

land drained by a river and its tributaries

sanitation
Noun

promotion of hygiene, health, and cleanliness.

Sherpa
Noun

people and culture native to the Himalayan region of Nepal and China. Sherpa often serve as mountaineer guides and porters on mountain-climbing expeditions.

Noun

layers of snow that naturally build up during snowfalls.

Noun

degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

thermoelectric power plant
Adjective

power plant that uses a temperature difference between two materials to generate electricity.

Noun

stream that feeds, or flows, into a larger stream.

upcycle
Verb

to recycle one or more items to create an object that is worth more than the original product.

water conservation
Noun

process of lowering the amount of water used by homes and businesses.

water scarcity
Noun

situation when the amount of water available does not meet the amount of water needed or wanted by a population.

water stress
Noun

situation faced by a nation or community when the amount of available water is less than 1,700 cubic meters per person.

water tower
Noun

elevated structure used for storing water.

water vulnerability
Noun

threats to the supply of freshwater such as aquifer depletion, contamination from human and natural sources, and the effects of climate variability and change.

Noun

entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries.

weather system
Noun

movement of warm or cold air.

wind
Noun

movement of air (from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone) caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.