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The Ocean's Green Machines


This video introduces phytoplankton - the base of the marine food web, the source of half of the oxygen on Earth, and an important remover of CO2 from the atmosphere. The video also explains how satellites are used to monitor phytoplankton and how warming waters and acidification negatively affect phytoplankton.

Video length 5 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biosphere drives the global carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3e
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Our understanding of climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Our understanding of climate
Evidence shows that human-caused global warming have impacted ecosystem resulting in reduced biodiversity and ecological resilience
About Teaching Principle 6
Other materials addressing 6d

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

  • This video could fit in any lesson or unit dealing with ecosystems, oceanography, marine biology, plants, or taxonomy.
  • A tiny drop of sea water, typically a staple lab exercise in most middle school classrooms, could be explored and tied into a lesson on the ocean food web. This video would make a nice complement to close out the lesson and tie the concepts together by demonstrating how something so small could have such a large impact on Earth's climate system.
  • Might be a great addition to a middle school level classroom on the food web and how climate change is affecting the web of life.

About the Science

  • Green Machines is a NASA video that discusses phytoplankton as an important carbon sink. NASA satellites monitor global changes in phytoplankton and relate to changes in ocean sea surface temperature this past decade.
  • Video documents importance of phytoplankton to marine food chain and how scientists can study changes in phytoplankton density from satellites.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Well-told story of how these tiny plants play such a vital role.
  • The video covers a lot of topics quickly (introduces phytoplankton, ocean acidification, stratification) which may confuse some students.

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