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Education: Student Outcomes

Filtered by outcome, asset type: 5-8q7, video
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Outcome: Explain that the ocean holds a large amount of heat and the effect this has on climate.
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Video: atmosphere_ocean_fluids.flv

Currently we have a 50 degree Fahrenheit difference between the temperatures around the equator and the temperatures at the high latitudes near the poles. So that's 50 degrees Fahrenheit difference. Now without those fluids - so if the earth didn't have an atmosphere and the earth didn't have an ocean (which might not make it very livable) - but if we just had a solid land planet, that temperature difference would be 200 degrees Fahrenheit. So it really gives you an idea of how much work those fluids are doing and how much heat they're delivering from the equator to the poles.
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Video: salinity_and_climate_2.flv

One of the concerns we've had is whether or not the salinity changes will impact what's called the very large-scale ocean overturning circulation, what many people refer to as "the global ocean conveyer belt". And so that overturning of the ocean plays a large role in our climate. And not just (sort of) a climate that we think of in a really abstract sense but it really means a lot for the climate that we live in because that ocean overturning redistributes the heat.
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Video: salinity_and_climate_1.flv

When these waters at very high latitudes - (your) Greenland, Iceland - when they sink in the wintertime (it's) because they are very dense. Those waters sink, they spread to the global ocean and (eventually) they need to return. When they return, they are returning in the surface waters. That's why it's referred to as an "overturning".

So these warm waters are returning at the surface, going back to those high latitudes in the Norwegian and Greenland seas. And when they're doing that, when they're returning, they're bringing very warm water with them. Because that return means they're coming through the equatorial regions of the tropics where the atmosphere is very warm and the oceans are warmed.

So when those warm waters are returning, as they're moving up to the higher and higher latitudes, then they're releasing that heat to the atmosphere. Then the winds blow over the ocean, they pick up that heat, and those winds over the Atlantic Ocean are moving from the North American continent to the European continent. So these westerly winds are picking up that heat and moisture and dumping it all over the British Isles and northern Europe. So if there's any change to that overturning circulation, that means that northern Europe and the British Isles would be robbed of that heat, due to those waters that are returning to the high latitudes.