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Climate Change and the Oceans

The King's Centre for Visualization in Science

This activity covers the role that the oceans may play in climate change and how climate change may affect the oceans. It is lesson 8 in a nine-lesson module Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change.

Activity takes about one to two 50-minute class periods.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Ocean as climate control, oceanic conveyor belt; abrupt changes in thermohaline circulation
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2b
Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Increased acidity of oceans and negative impacts on food chain due to increasing carbon dioxide levels
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7d

Energy Literacy

Water plays a major role in the storage and transfer of energy in the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.4 Water stores and transfers energy.
Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by Earth's internal and external sources of energy.
Other materials addressing:
2.5 Energy moves between reservoirs.

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 activity includes mathematical equations and calculations. Educators may want to preview these prior to initiating student involvement to make sure students are adequately prepared.
  • Educators should be familiar with the concepts covered in visuals prior to introducing the material to students, as some of them are not annotated (e.g. first video about thermohaline circulation).

About the Science

  • This resource covers a variety of important scientific concepts, including ocean circulation, climate teleconnections, ocean carbon storage, the impacts of increasing temperatures on sea level rise, and the impacts of increasing atmospheric CO2 on ocean acidity levels.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Good overview but does not reference or link to sources/scientific papers.

About the Pedagogy

  • Excellent, self-guided activity that contains interactive visualizations and videos and also poses questions to students throughout.
  • Activity walks users through the key concepts related to the ocean and atmosphere as a global regulators in the Earth's climate system.
  • All embedded applets work and directly relate to user understanding the concepts more deeply.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent videos and complementary applets to support the science.

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