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The Role of Ocean Currents in Climate
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ttv10.sci.ess.watcyc.currents/

ThinkTV, Teachers' Domain

This video segment uses data-based visual NOAA representations to trace the path of surface ocean currents around the globe and explore their role in creating climate zones. Ocean surface currents have a major impact on regional climate around the world, bringing coastal fog to San Francisco and comfortable temperatures to the British Isles.

Video length 3:48 minutes.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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
Other materials addressing 2b

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

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.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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 provides some useful visuals for a unit on global ocean currents.
  • There is a very nice research project in the teaching tips section asking students to research a coastal city to determine how ocean currents determine its climate.

About the Science

  • Video focuses on role of surface ocean currents in global climate.
  • Comment from expert scientist: Asks students to think on both global and local scales. Includes (though necessarily briefly) both major processes that move ocean water (wind forcing and density). Relates the oceans to climate processes on large scales (e.g. heat uptake by the ocean) and smaller scales (e.g. El NiƱo, local coastal climates).
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This video includes a background essay and teaching tips.
  • Links to other videos and resources are included, making it easy to build a more comprehensive unit on ocean currents.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The quality of the streaming video is likely not suitable for classroom projection. The download versions are of higher quality.

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