oceans...activities

© 2002 American Geological Institute http://www.agiweb.org


Contents: All Activities and Investigations

Oceans Activities (1) see also Ocean Investigations (2)


Activity 1 
Activity 2 
Activity 3 
Activity 4 
Activity 5 
Activity 6

Students are challenged to prepare a report to help community leaders to decide whether to host a statewide conference on preparing for El Nino events. 

Students will:

Activity 1  --  Causes of Ocean Circulation
To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

1. Oceans of the World

  • "Ocean of the World - Geography" - About.com 

  • Site contains links to further information on the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans.  Click on the ocean of your choice to be given a list of more links that contain information such as political maps and maps of the ocean floor.
    (http://www.geography.about.com/science/geography/library/maps/blocean.htm)
  • "Oceans of the World" - Ocean Talk, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Public Affairs 

  • This site provides a brief, non-technical overview of each of the ocean basins.  Also includes colorful ocean maps and cross sections.
    (http://pao.cnmoc.navy.mil/pao/Educate/OceanTalk2/indexnew.htm)
  • "Exploring the Ocean Basins with Satellite Altimeter Data" - NOAA National Geophysical Data Center 

  • Online article reviews physical features of the ocean basins and the technology that scientists use to study these basins.  This site also contains several images to explain how the technology works.
    (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/predicted/explore.HTML)
  • *The Oceanographer of the Navy  

  • Detailed description of the each ocean, including depth variations, geology of the ocean floor, characteristics of water masses in the ocean, and how the ocean influences climate and humans through time.  Click on the ocean of your interest for more information.
    • * "Atlantic Ocean"  (http://oceanographer.navy.mil/atlantic.html) 
    • * "Pacific Ocean" (http://oceanographer.navy.mil/pacific.html) 
    • * "Indian Ocean" (http://oceanographer.navy.mil/indian.html) 
    • * "Arctic Ocean" (http://oceanographer.navy.mil/arctic.html) 
    *The Oceanographer of the Navy no longer hosts these web sites. As of late July, the sites will be mirrored at http://www.the-sea.org/
    2. The Warm and the Cold Ocean
  • "What Does Water Do Below the Surface?" - Rice University's Glacier page 

  • Site explains the difference between the modes of operation of surface ocean circulation and deep ocean circulation.  Includes links to define unfamiliar terms and colorful images to accompany the text.
    (http://www.glacier.rice.edu/oceans/4_densitydriven.html)
  • "Tracers, time scales, and the thermohaline circulation: The lower limb in the North Atlantic Ocean" - Fine, R.A., 1995, Rev. Geophys., Vol. 33 Suppl., AGU 

  • This online papers introduces the concept of thermohaline circulation and how it relates to climate.  The second and third sections of the paper are a bit more technical, reviewing research techniques for tracing water masses in the ocean.
    (http://www.agu.org/revgeophys/fine00/fine00.html)
  • "What is Climate?" - TOPEX/Poseidon, Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA 

  • First window defines climate.  After reading text, click on link at bottom of screen to cover topics that include the connection between the oceans and atmosphere, what ocean circulation is and why it is important, and the seasons of the oceans.  Several of the windows have color images.
    (http://topex-www.jpl.nasa.gov/aviso/graphics/general/discover/results/climate.htm)
    3. The Circulation of the Oceans
  • "A Primer of Ocean Currents: Measurements and Lingo of Physical Oceanographers" - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 

  • Brief article gives definitions and information for terms commonly used in oceaography.
    (http://www.whoi.edu/coastal-briefs/Coastal-Brief-94-05.html)
  • "Gulf Stream Temperatures" - NASA's Earth Observing System 

  • Explains this ocean current, which plays an extremely important role in regulating global climate.  Includes a high-resolution satellite image.
    (http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eos_edu.pack/p07.html)
  • "Antarctic Oceanography" - Rice University's Glacier site 

  • This site contains links to articles about the water masses of the Southern, or Antarctic, Ocean.  Click on link for information.  Each page contains color images illustrating water mass formation and movement.
    (http://www.glacier.rice.edu/oceans/4_southernoceancirc.html)
    4. The Wind Stress on the Surface of the Ocean
  • "Wind Speed and Wave Height" - NASA's Earth Observing System 

  • Explains the relationship between wind and waves. Includes a satellite image.
    (http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eos_edu.pack/p14.html)
  • "Surface Wind Fields Over the Oceans" - NASA's Earth Observing System 

  • This site includes a color image showing the wind patterns over the Pacific and explains how wind patterns form and are documented by scientists.
    (http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eos_edu.pack/p13.html)
  • "Why Does Surface Flow Follow the Wind?" - Rice University's Glacier page 

  • Topics covered include the effect of wind stress on the water surface, the impact of the Coriolis effect on surface current patterns, and continent interference.  Includes text and images to explain the major ocean gyres, transverse currents, western and eastern boundary, and the effect of plate tectonics on surface circulation.
    (http://www.glacier.rice.edu/oceans/4_windcirculation.html)
    5. The Coriolis Effect 
  • "Water moving up and down in the ocean..." - Rice University's Glacier page 

  • This site reviews how the Corlios effect influences upwelling in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.  Includes color images.
    (http://www.glacier.rice.edu/oceans/4_upwelling.html)
  • "Understanding the Coriolis force..." - Flament, et al., 1986, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i 

  • This site contains a series of movies showing the trajectory of a point mass to illustrate how the Coriolis force operates.  Includes views as seen from a fixed plane, a frame of reference rotating counter-clockwise, and a side view.  Also allows creation of own simulation for further explorations (requires Matlab program).
    (http://satftp.soest.hawaii.edu/ocn620/coriolis/)
  • "Getting Around the Coriolis Force" - Van Domelen, D.J., The Ohio State University, Department of Physics 

  • Online article reviews the basic physics behind the Coriolis effect, how the Coriolis effect influences the operation of the atmosphere and oceans, and why the Coriolis effect is only relevant on certain (larger) scales.
    (http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~dvandom/Edu/newcor.html)
    Back to top
    Activity 2  -- The Deep Circulation of the Ocean
    To learn more about this topic:

    1.  Seawater Temperature, Salinity, and Density

  • "Experimental SST Contour Charts" - National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, NOAA 

  • Site contains color contour maps of SST (sea-surface temperature) for selected ocean regions.  Also, click on the links on the side-bar menu to view additional images and animations on topics such as coral reef bleaching and El Nino.
    (http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/sst_anal_fields.html)
  • "General Characteristics of the World's Oceans" - NASA Institute on Climate and Planets 

  • Site reviews the general characteristics of the oceans, including temperature and salinity.  Click on link at bottom of page to advance.  Site contains several full-color images.
    (http://icp.giss.nasa.gov/research/oceans/oceanchars/index.html)
    2.  Water Masses in the Ocean
  • "Pacific Toy Spill Fuels Ocean Current Research" - Ebbesmeyer et al., Earth in Space Vol. 7, No. 2, October 1994, pp.7-9, 14, American Geophysical Union 

  • This article contains information regarding the spill of shoes and rubber duckies in the Pacific that students investigate in Activity 3, specifically how the spill led to a greater understanding of ocean circulation patterns.
    (http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/ducks.html)
  • "Some advances in understanding of the general circulation of the Pacific Ocean, with emphasis on recent U.S. contributions" - Talley, L. D., 1995, Rev. Geophys. Vol. 33, Suppl., AGU 

  • Online article is divided into sections, including a general background review of Pacific circulation, a review of the observational basis for conclusions on Pacific circulation, and an examination of the techniques used to study circulation.
    (http://www.agu.org/revgeophys/talley01/talley01.html)
    3.  What Causes Deep Ocean Circulation?
  • "Tracers, time scales, and the thermohaline circulation: The lower limb in the North Atlantic Ocean" - Fine, R.A., 1995, Rev. Geophys., Vol. 33 Suppl., AGU 

  • This online papers introduces the concept of thermohaline circulation and how it relates to climate.  The second and third sections of the paper are a bit more technical, reviewing research techniques for tracing water masses in the ocean.
    (http://www.agu.org/revgeophys/fine00/fine00.html)
    To complete the investigation, each student group will need:
    Back to top
    Activity 3  --  Surface Ocean Circulation
     
    To learn more about this topic:
    Back to top
    Activity 4  --  El Nino and Ocean Circulation: Taking a Closer Look Back to top
    Activity 5  --  Weather, Climate, and El Nino Back to top
    Activity 6  --  El Nino and the Oceanic Food Chain Back to top
    Resources:

    Web Sites:

    Maps: Videos: Books:


    Magazines:

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