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Education: Student Outcomes

Filtered by outcome: 5-8q6
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Outcome: Explain the effect of solar energy on wind and cloud formation and the effect solar energy, wind and clouds have on climate.
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate

This data visualizer includes wind speeds and directions from 1999 to 2008.
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Video: salt_of_earth_03.flv

The oceans are vast, covering 70 percent of our planet, and so it is no surprise that we still know only a little about this system, and how it will respond to change, and furthermore, create change.

Jeff Halverson: "Climate change on earth is complicated by the fact that the ocean moves much more slowly than the atmosphere. So you have warming in the atmosphere, warming in the ocean, but they're occurring at different speeds. So they're out of sync, and that makes predicting what's going to happen in the next hundred or two years very, very difficult."

Susan Lozier: "Now what we might expect happens, in a very simplistic sense, is that as the ocean warms, there's going to be more evaporation. And that more evaporation would would mean that oceans become saltier. But really it's not just that simple because there's also evaporation, precipitation, and the ice as well, and that's all wrapped up in the study of the hydrologic cycle." (source)
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Video: salt_of_earth_02.flv

Susan Lozier: "And the atmosphere and the ocean, both being fluids of the earth, really work together. We consider them sort of equal partners in the redistribution of this heat on the planet. 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."

Jeff Halverson: "It takes perhaps a thousand years for the water to cycle through the deep ocean. So we say the oceans have a memory. They're like a tape recorder. Things that happen now will still be manifest hundreds of years in the future as that cold water moves through this giant circulation."

Susan Lozier: "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." (source)
Grade level: 5-8
Theme: climate
Activity: documents/vtop_global_winds_oc_currents.pdf

The surface currents of the major ocean basins show similarities to the prevailing wind systems that drive them. Contained by continental boundaries and deflected by Earth's rotation, these surface currents flow in large, roughly circular patterns called gyres. Gyres play an important role in redistributing heat from the low to middle and high latitudes, thus influencing air temperature, weather, and climate.

After completing this investigation, students should be able to (1) demonstrate the influence of wind on ocean currents, and (2) describe the typical gyre circulation of surface currents in two major ocean basins.