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Topic: Oceanic Heat Budget

Topic: Interactions

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.

Mission:

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 - http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/sst/archive/
  • Off-shore Weather Data - http://www.ems.psu.edu/cgi-bin/wx//offshore.cgi

Assessment:

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 stewart@ocean.tamu.edu