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Climate Change and the Oceans
http://www.explainingclimatechange.ca/Climate%20Change/Lessons/Lesson%208/lesson8.html

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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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
The abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is controlled by biogeochemical cycles that continually move these components between their ocean, land, life, and atmosphere reservoirs. The abundance of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced through seafloor accumulation of marine sediments and accumulation of plant biomass and is increased through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels as well as through other processes.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
The chemistry of ocean water is changed by absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is causing ocean water to become more acidic, threatening the survival of shell-building marine species and the entire food web of which they are a part.
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.

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 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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