The oceans can absorb and store great amounts of heat. Climatologists have long debated the role of the oceans, in the projected warming of the planet. One thing climatologists do agree on, however, is that the oceans do play a major role in weather and climate. Oceans, which cover 72 % of the planet, have been described as the "memory" of the world climate system. The oceans can store large amounts of heat at great depths for thousands of years before it circulates back into the atmosphere. Currents move this stored heat throughout the oceans.

We have traveled the oceans following and measuring the currents that flow on the surface and within the ocean. Satellite altimeters are constantly monitoring ocean currents and sea surface temperatures. Surface currents are of great importance, because they help regulate the water temperature throughtout the world.


Four previously undiscovered islands about the size of the Island of Hawaii have been located. Your team's mission should you decide to accept it is to

Explore one of the islands and gather as much information as possible about the climate and weather of that island.

Describe the climate and weather on your island. Weather includes seasons, rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind, percentage of cloud cover, and snowfall. Use graphs and charts to show your information.

Describe how local currents, water temperatures, and waves in the ocean may influence weather near your island. Create maps that illustrate the ocean currents and water temperatures.

Choose one of the following four "make-believe"islands to explore:

  1. Imagination Island located at 10 degrees north and 60 degrees east in the Arabian Sea
  2. Never-Never Land located at 30 degrees south and 5 degrees east in the South Atlantic
  3. Fantasy Island located at 40 degrees north and 40 degrees west. in the North Atlantic
  4. Phantom Island located at O degrees (equator) and 180 degrees west in Pacific Ocean

To help you in your exploration and data gathering you may want to visit some real-time data sites such as:

Sea Surface Temperatures—

  1. University of Wisconsin, Space Science and Engineering Center Sea Surface Temperature Maps based on satellite data.
    1. Click on a date to display the map for that date.
    2. Click on the map image to display a larger image.

Off-shore Weather Data—

  1. The International Research Institute for Climate and Society has an online Global Map Room with maps of the climate.
    1. Select a data set such as: Climatologies: Precipitation.
    2. When the web page with an animation of precipitation comes up, click on map to bring up a more detailed map.
    3. When the new map comes up, click on month box at top and type in the abbreviation for a particular month, for example type in jan and hit return to bring up the january map.
  2. Remote Sensing Systems has maps of present weather conditions around the world, including sea-surface temperature, atmospheric water vapor, surface wind speed, cloud liquid water, and rain rate made from data from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Radiometer on NASA's Aqua Satellite. Click on an image to display a very big map.


Still Under Construction


Lesson Ideas created/adapted by Margaret Hammer (Graduate Research Assistant) and Judith Kenworthy (Technology Mentor Fellowship Associate) Texas A&M University. All comments and questions can be directed to

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