b. Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean exerts a major control on climate by dominating Earth's energy and water cycles. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of solar energy. Heat and water vapor are redistributed globally through density-driven ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Changes in ocean circulation caused by tectonic movements or large influxes of fresh water from melting polar ice can lead to significant and even abrupt changes in climate, both locally and on global scales.

This visualization examines the relationship between global wind direction and the direction and temperature (warm vs cold) of the ocean surface currents. Placing a cursor over the map superimposes surface wind patterns so the correlation between ocean currents and surface winds can be emphasized.

This hands-on activity explores the driving forces behind global thermohaline circulation.

In this video, Peter Hall (a senior scientist in the field of bioenergy research at Crown Research Institute Scion) describes how different products (e.g. coal, wood) produce differing amounts of greenhouse gases.

In this activity, students act as water molecules and travel through parts of the water cycle (ocean, atmosphere, clouds, glaciers, snow, rivers, lakes, ground, aquifer), noting on a hydrological cycle diagram the pathway traveled.

This graphic contains ocean heat content (OHC) anomaly trends from 1945 to 2009 for the top 700 meters of the ocean. It is composed of long-term datasets from seven different references. The graphic can be manipulated and downloaded as a picture.

This short video from Climate Central explains the technology used to monitor changes in Arctic sea ice. Long-term tracking (since the late 1970's) shows Arctic sea ice has been on a steady decline and this could have significant implications for global temperatures.

This series of activities introduce students to polar oceanography, polar climate and how events that occur in oceans thousands of kilometers away affect them and the mid-latitudes using maps, images, lab experiments and online data tools. Students explore how conditions are changing in the Polar Regions and the possible impacts upon life in the United States and other mid-latitude nations.

In this activity, students will practice the steps involved in a scientific investigation as they learn why ice formations on land (and not those on water) will cause a rise in sea level upon melting. This is a discovery lesson in ice and water density and displacement of water by ice floating on the surface as it relates to global climate change.

This brief, hands-on activity illustrates the different heating capacities of soil and water in order to understand why places near the sea have a more moderate climate than those inland.

In this classroom activity, students access sea surface temperature and wind speed data from a NASA site, plot and compare data, draw conclusions about surface current and sea surface temperature, and link their gained understanding to concerns about global climate change.


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