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Effects of El Niño/La Niña on Phytoplankton and Fish
http://sphere.ssec.wisc.edu/20130315/

EarthNow Team, NOAA

This video shows 15 years of data obtained via Polar-orbiting satellites that are able to detect subtle differences in ocean color, allowing scientists to see where there are higher concentrations of phytoplankton - a proxy for the concentration of chlorophyll in the ocean.

Video length is 4:24 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
About Teaching Principle 3
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Climate change is a significant and persistent change in an area’s average climate conditions or their extremes. Seasonal variations and multi-year cycles (for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation) that produce warm, cool, wet, or dry periods across different regions are a natural part of climate variability. They do not represent climate change.
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Energy Literacy

The Sun is the major source of energy for organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part.
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3.1 The Sun is major source of energy for organisms and ecosystems.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
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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 is an excellent real-world example that ties climate to biology to economics (fisheries). The video is visually appealing in the sense that it offers a global view of the population distributions of phytoplankton.
  • Educators might want to do a more in-depth introduction to El Niño/La Niña, as the schematics in the video are small and used briefly.
  • Educators could have students graph some of the annual averages to see changes in abundance and distribution over time.

About the Science

  • The video pulls together climatic cycles (El Niño/La Niña)information with phytoplankton data. Phytoplankton form the base of the food web and supply half of all the oxygen that we breath.
  • The narrator provides a clear explanation of the data and how it is being used to understand fish distributions and why some fisheries suddenly collapse.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It is presented in a interesting way. I think the animation is interesting and facilitate the understanding of the phenomenon. I like the image of the various fish species and marine mammals and seabirds.I think that this resource is incomplete. Should mention the phenomenon "La Nada" which isa phase with no El Niño and Niña.

About the Pedagogy

  • The video presents the data in a very straightforward, scientific manner without any fluff; it is not especially engaging for students.
  • No specifically pedagogical material is provided.
  • A link to NOAA's site http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/enso4.html gives educators background information on the topic of El Niño impact on fish distributions.
  • Connects with Ocean literacy principles and standards.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video is easy to watch and is close-captioned; it provides both oral and visual info.
  • The video was made for Science On a Sphere (SOS) but has been made available for use on a flat screen.
  • Interactive video links are provided at the end of the video, some of which are provided in Spanish (though not labeled as such).
  • Note that this visual uses a different color coding scheme than other phytoplankton visuals (if using others in the classroom).

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