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Aquarius: Ocean Circulation
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=87030071

NASA

This short video from NASA discusses the role that salinity plays in Earth's climate and ocean circulation, focusing on the observations of the Aquarius satellite.

Video length: 118 sec.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean exerts a major control on climate by dominating Earth's energy and water cycles. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of solar energy. Heat and water vapor are redistributed globally through density-driven ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Changes in ocean circulation caused by tectonic movements or large influxes of fresh water from melting polar ice can lead to significant and even abrupt changes in climate, both locally and on global scales.
About Teaching Principle 2
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The interconnectedness of Earth’s systems means that a significant change in any one component of the climate system can influence the equilibrium of the entire Earth system. Positive feedback loops can amplify these effects and trigger abrupt changes in the climate system. These complex interactions may result in climate change that is more rapid and on a larger scale than projected by current climate models.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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Thermal energy carried by ocean currents has a strong influence on climates around the world. Areas near oceans tend to have more moderate temperatures than they would if they were farther inland but at the same latitude because water in the oceans can hold a large amount of thermal energy.
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Transfer of thermal energy between the atmosphere and the land or oceans produces temperature gradients in the atmosphere and the oceans. Regions at different temperatures rise or sink or mix, resulting in winds and ocean currents. These winds and ocean currents, which are also affected by the earth's rotation and the shape of the land, carry thermal energy from warm to cool areas.
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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

  • An additional video is provided that discusses how Aquarius helps climate modelers to understand the ocean-atmosphere processes that are changing Earth's climate.
  • A transcript is provided as well.

About the Science

  • The ocean circulation plays a key role in distributing solar energy and maintaining climate by moving heat from Earth's equator to the poles.
  • The Aquarius satellite's salinity data combined with data from other sensors that measure sea level, rainfall, temperature, ocean color, and winds provide a much clearer picture of the complex ocean dynamics.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video also emphasizes the importance of ocean density to deep water circulation, and makes it clear that ocean density is primarily a function of water temperature and salinity. It asks a couple clear and pertinent questions about climate change, particularly about how water, precipitation, and ocean salinity might become affected.

About the Pedagogy

  • The transcript of the video and glossary of terms are provided.
  • Some background and static images to complement the video are offered.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video size and format are easy to use.
  • The visual graphics on ocean currents are clear and visually engaging.

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

An alternative URL to link directly to the Aquarius video: http://aquarius.nasa.gov/science-ocean.html.

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