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.
The NOAA Ocean Service Education lab requires students create and manipulate solutions simulating different ocean water characteristics in order to recognize that the effects of salinity and temperature are the drivers of thermohaline circulation.
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.
In this role-playing activity, learners are presented with a scenario in which they determine whether the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping northern Europe warm. They must also address the potential future of the Gulf Stream if polar ice were to continue melting. The students work in small groups to identify the issue, discuss the problem, and develop a problem statement. They are then asked what they need to know to solve the problem.
This activity covers the role that the oceans may play in climate change and how climate change may affect the oceans. It is lesson 8 in a nine-lesson module Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change.