This Changing Planet video documents scientists' concerns regarding how melting Arctic sea ice will increase the amount of fresh water in the Beaufort Gyre, which could spill out into the Atlantic and cause major climate shifts in North America and Western Europe. The video includes interviews with scientists and a look at the basics of how scientists measure salinity in the ocean and how ocean circulation works in the Arctic.
This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 years.
This activity utilizes labs, online resources, and student ideas to build an understanding of polar climates, how changes in polar oceans can affect coastal climates, and how changes in polar regions affect climates elsewhere on Earth.
This video segment uses data-based visual NOAA representations to trace the path of surface ocean currents around the globe and explore their role in creating climate zones. Ocean surface currents have a major impact on regional climate around the world, bringing coastal fog to San Francisco and comfortable temperatures to the British Isles.
This audio slideshow/video describes the Greenland ice sheet and the difficulties in getting scientific measurements at the interface between the ice and the ocean. It features the work of a researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher. She gives a personal account of her work on the recent increase in melting of glaciers, the challenges of working in Greenland, and the reasons why so many climate scientists are looking there for answers to questions about climate change.
This activity uses a mix of multimedia resources and hands-on activities to support a storyline of investigation into melting sea ice. The lesson begins with a group viewing of a video designed to get students to consider both the local and global effects of climate change. The class then divides into small groups for inquiry activities on related topics followed by a presentation of the findings to the entire class. A final class discussion reveals a more complex understanding of both the local and global impacts of melting sea ice.
This NASA animation depicts thermohaline circulation in the ocean and how it relates to salinity and water density. It illustrates the sinking of water in the cold, dense ocean near Iceland and Greenland. The surface of the ocean then fades away and the animation pulls back to show the global thermohaline circulation system.