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22 Years of Sea Surface Temperatures

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Visualizations

This NOAA visualization on YouTube shows the seasonal variations in sea surface temperatures and ice cover from 1985 to 2007. The visualization is based on data collected by NOAA polar-orbiting satellites. El Niño and La Niña are easily identified, as are the trends in decreasing polar sea ice.

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ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

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

About the Science

  • The NOAA polar-orbiting satellites (POES) have been collecting sea surface temperature data for over 22 years. This animation is a compilation of that data from January 1985 - January 2007.
  • Of note are the changes in the Gulf Stream, El Niño and La Niña cycles (ENSO) in the Pacific, and the seasonal changes in sea ice cover.
  • Further changes in sea surface temperature have occurred since this visual was made. Educators should seek up-to-date data if needed. This NOAA page contains more recent data and figures: NOAA Sea Surface Temperature.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The strength of this resource is that it provides a visual animation of change with time. Therefore, in a minute or so the reviewer gets a real feel for the magnitude of SST changes throughout the time period that we have been making observations. This is an incredibly beneficial tool for use in a classroom!

About the Pedagogy

  • Have students keep track of ENSO fluctuations, the seasonal changes of the sea ice, and polar sea surface temperatures. This is only one of many NOAA visualizations that may be useful in the classroom.
  • As with this and other NOAA Visualizations on YouTube, educators may want to embed the video on a different website because the comments that follow it can be distracting or inappropriate.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent quality.
  • Video can be embedded on another website to avoid commentary on YouTube site.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:

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