In this activity for undergraduate students, learners build a highly simplified computer model of thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean and conduct a set of simulation experiments to understand the complex dynamics inherent in this simple model.

This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter is a detailed computer-based exploration in which students learn how various climatic conditions impact the formations of sediment layers on the ocean floor. They analyze sediment core data from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica for evidence of climate changes over time. In addition, they interact with various tools and animations throughout the activity, in particular the Paleontological Stratigraphic Interval Construction and Analysis Tool (PSICAT) that is used to construct a climate change model of a sediment core from core images.

This module contains five activities, in increasing complexity, that focus on understanding how to interpret and manipulate sea level data, using real data from NOAA.

Students first need to understand how to access and interpret sea surface height and tide data. To understand how to interpret these data, students will review and practice computing mean values. Along the way, they will learn how different factors, such as storms, affect tide levels and how to measure them. The goal is for students to become experienced with these kinds of data and the tools for accessing them so that, by the end of the module, they can continue to explore data sets driven by their own inquiry.

In this activity, students examine global climate model output and consider the potential impact of global warming on tropical cyclone initiation and evolution. As a follow-up, students read two short articles on the connection between hurricanes and global warming and discuss these articles in context of what they have learned from model output.