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Giving Rise to the Jet Stream

WGBH NOVA, Teachers' Domain

This 15-panel interactive from NOVA Online describes some of the factors (such as Earth's rotation and the sun's uneven heating of Earth's surface) contributing to the formation of the high-speed eastward flows of the jet streams, found near the top of the troposphere. These jet streams play a major role in guiding weather systems.

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ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept
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 visualization first explains the basic wind patterns that occur in a non-rotating Earth heated by the sun. Then the effect of Earth's rotation is added.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The slides describe the basics of atmospheric circulation very well, emphasizing the key point that it is driven by the Sun, Earth's rotation, and the Sun's differential heating of the planet.

About the Pedagogy

  • This interactive clearly explains some of the factors underlying the basic characteristics of jet streams.
  • A background essay, discussion questions, and a link to standards provide other good resources on the same website. There are links to definitions of the science terms used in the interactive.
  • There are a couple of discussion questions that support deeper comprehension.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The graphics and animations in this resource are clear and simple but with little visual flourish.
  • The black text on the blue background could be difficult for some people to read.
  • Slides can be enlarged using the browser zoom function.
  • There should be no technical difficulties in using this resource if the browser has the Adobe Flash plugin installed.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1


MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-PS2.A2:Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference; it is the mass times the velocity of the object.

HS-PS2.A3:If a system interacts with objects outside itself, the total momentum of the system can change; however, any such change is balanced by changes in the momentum of objects outside the system.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1


HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

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