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Planet Earth: The Water Planet


A nicely crafted NASA video on Earth as the water planet, highlighting the value of ocean-observing satellites and the role they play in understanding the global effects of climate change.

Video length 4:31 min.

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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.
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mate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
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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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Melting of ice sheets and glaciers, combined with the thermal expansion of seawater as the oceans warm, is causing sea level to rise. Seawater is beginning to move onto low-lying land and to contaminate coastal fresh water sources and beginning to submerge coastal facilities and barrier islands. Sea-level rise increases the risk of damage to homes and buildings from storm surges such as those that accompany hurricanes.
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mate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

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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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 may be a good video to introduce how satellite observations complement scientific research and supply valuable information to create a foundation for understanding global climate change. For younger audiences you may find additional online resources here http://climate.nasa.gov/kids/bigQuestions/oceanHappening/.
  • Recommend that educator narrate video and explain false coloration observed from satellite images of different wavelengths.

About the Science

  • As global ocean temperatures increase, the ocean water expands causing sea level rise, which can have disastrous impacts on low-lying coastal regions.
  • The video highlights the type of ocean data that the Modis and Jason satellites can collect, e.g. phytoplankton data and sea surface height.
  • The effect of a warming ocean on sea level rise with subsequent impact on coastal areas is also reviewed.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The site is visually very appealing with clear graphics illustrating the forcing factors (e.g. carbon dioxide concentrations) and consequences. The discussion follows a clear progression from things that are not in dispute to predictions which are less uncertain. Additional resources are particularly strong.

About the Pedagogy

  • Stunning images in high definition.
  • Understanding satellite images can be difficult and should be addressed, as color schemes can be in false colors.
  • Video could be used to help students make connections between certain images and the satellites used to create those images.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video composed of video clips and accompanying text for students to read. No narration.
  • Quality of video is high definition. It can be downloaded for ease of use.

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