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Getting carbon into the ocean is one matter. Getting it down to the depths is another.

Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

This interactive shows the different components of the ocean biological pump, i.e., how carbon in the form of either plankton or particles moves into the ocean's depths. It illustrates the situation at the surface, 0-100 meters, 100-500 meters, and below 500 meters.

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Climate Literacy
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Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
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Biosphere drives the global carbon cycle
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Natural processes of CO2 removal from atmosphere is slow; Long residence time of some GHG
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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

  • This interactive would be best used in an oceanography course.
  • Educators may wish to relate this interactive to ocean acidification or the long-term carbon cycle.
  • Have students explore the interactions among the different depths.
  • Resource could be printed and hung in the classroom as a reference for students

About the Science

  • This interactive provides a simple way to understand how carbon moves into ocean depths (i.e., the ocean biological pump).
  • One thing missing from this interactive image is a sense of how much carbon moves among these depths.
  • Background information is lacking for educators to understand each process in detail.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The material is easy to understand and well presented. The information is well summarized.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students can determine the forms of carbon at each depth using the simple drawings of plankton and particles in the two keys.
  • Arrows and pop-up explanations make it clear how carbon moves among the different depths.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The resource is well-designed with simple colorful visual elements.
  • It requires the Flash player plugin to run on a web browser.

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