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Wind and Ocean Circulation

Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, Thomas and Lucas, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

This animated visualization was created for the planetarium film 'Dynamic Earth'. It illustrates the trail of energy that flows from atmospheric wind currents to ocean currents.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Animation supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 2 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

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

  • The visualization could be paired with sections of the film http://www.dynamicearth.spitzcreativemedia.com/ to show the connections of the wind and currents to Earth's entire system .
  • Educator will have to reinforce with younger audiences how the visualization connects to the Earth's climate system. Visualization can be paused during viewing for educator to reinforce points of understanding.
  • Educator will need to explain what processes are being illustrated in the images.
  • CLEAN resource called the Global Ocean Conveyor Belt found http://www.andrill.org/education/elf_activities_3A.html could pair with this visualization nicely and reinforce concepts.

    About the Science

    • The images in the visualizations begin by displaying Earth's global wind patterns, then zoom in to reveal the connections to high-speed ocean currents.
    • The animation uses data from computational models: wind patterns are from the MERRA computational model of the atmosphere; ocean currents are from the ECCO-2 computational model of the oceans and ice.
    • Comments from expert scientist: It is a neat video. Got the 'wow' factor when it goes under the surface of the ocean. I would show it to students, especially if you're on the East Coast.

    About the Pedagogy

    Technical Details/Ease of Use

    • The projecting globe is optional - it is not necessary to view the visualization.
    • The animation and still images are easy to access and download.

    Next Generation Science Standards See how this Animation supports:

    Middle School

    Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

    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.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: 3

    Patterns, Cause and effect

    MS-C1.3: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.

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

    MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

    Science and Engineering Practices: 2

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

    MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

    High School

    Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

    HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

    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.

    Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

    Patterns, Cause and effect

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

    HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

    Science and Engineering Practices: 1

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

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