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Sea Surface Salinity Influence on Earth's Climate

Brooke Harris, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

This short NASA video focuses on the Aquarius satellite, launched on June 10, 2011 to observe how variations in ocean salinity relate to climatic changes. By measuring salinity globally, Aquarius shows the ocean's role in climate change and climate's effects on ocean circulation.

Video length: 2:13 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
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Other materials addressing 5b
Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
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Our understanding of climate
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • Sea surface salinity and sea surface temperature, which together determine seawater density, regulate ocean circulation.
  • Computer models help to predict global temperatures, but ocean salinity is measured in a number of ways. NASA earth-orbit satellites, such as Aquarius, measure a wide variety of variables such as rainfall, surface wind, sea surface temperature (SST), sea level, and even ocean color. Observations like this help unlock the secret links between the ocean and climate.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This activity describes how satellites measure sea surface salinity well and how the SSS measurements fit into the satellite oceanography constellation, including describing how the instruments work and what extra measurements need to be taken in order to make the most accurate assessment of SSS.

About the Pedagogy

  • Teacher can reinforce nature of science principles during the video. The video itself serves as a great visualization to support a discussion of the importance of satellite observations in computer model development.
  • The video can also be used to show students how satellites work, how scientists observe the Earth from space (remote sensing), and how the ocean dynamics are measured.
  • The transcript at http://aquarius.nasa.gov/pdfs/aquarius_climate_transcript.pdf can be used by hearing impaired users.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Also see NASA's Eyes on the Earth 3D: http://climate.nasa.gov/Eyes/

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