Jump to this Video »
Aquarius: Ocean Circulation


This short video from NASA discusses the role that salinity plays in Earth's climate and ocean circulation, focusing on the observations of the Aquarius satellite.

Video length: 118 sec.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea

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
Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

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

  • An additional video is provided that discusses how Aquarius helps climate modelers to understand the ocean-atmosphere processes that are changing Earth's climate.
  • A transcript is provided as well.

About the Science

  • Ocean circulation plays a key role in distributing solar energy and maintaining climate by moving heat from Earth's equator to the poles.
  • The Aquarius satellite's salinity data combined with data from other sensors that measure sea level, rainfall, temperature, ocean color, and winds provide a picture of complex ocean dynamics.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video also emphasizes the importance of ocean density to deep water circulation, and makes it clear that ocean density is primarily a function of water temperature and salinity. It asks a couple clear and pertinent questions about climate change, particularly about how water, precipitation, and ocean salinity might become affected.

About the Pedagogy

  • The transcript of the video and glossary of terms are provided.
  • Some background and static images to complement the video are offered.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video size and format are easy to use.
  • The visual graphics on ocean currents are clear and visually engaging.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

More information about the science involved in the Aquarius mission, along with additional visualizations: http://aquarius.nasa.gov/science-ocean.html.
An alternate link to the video: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010710/

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.

MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.

MS-ESS2.C4:Variations in density due to variations in temperature and salinity drive a global pattern of interconnected ocean currents.

MS-ESS2.D3:The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

Jump to this Video »