Topic: Oceanic Heat Budget
Topic: Measurement

We all realize the importance of water to life--as we know it--on planet Earth. Astronomers have recently discovered other celestial bodies that may have water (H2O) in a liquid phase (stage). Earth's surface is more than 71% water and close to 29% surface land. The scientists tell us these proportions of water and land may or may not exist on other planetary bodies. Since we hope to send explorers to other celestial bodies some day, we may need to know more about how the ratio of water to land affects climatic conditions.

Preliminary Activity

Use a blank map outline of the world and complete the following orders:

Color all the continents and land masses BLUE.

Color all the oceans and other bodies of water GREEN.


Your assignment is to find out what conditions would be like on Earth if the percentages of surface land and water were reversed. Use your completed map to get a visual idea of what this might look like.

  • What if planet Earth was 71% surface land and only 29% water?
  • What do you know about water and the role it plays on Earth and what it does for the planet?
  • Brainstorm with your team for possible scenarios (hypotheses) of this reverse situation.
  • Would climate conditions on Earth remain as they are today or would it be different?
  • What effects might this reversal cause? Why?

Research sites on the internet that pertain to your topic.

Research current science journals that have addressed this topic.

Construct a model of your imaginary Earth and describe how it might function. Consider the atmosphere and ocean circulation.

  • What kind of "measurement" information will you need to know?

Your mission is important as it may provide future space travelers with knowledge of what to anticipate should they travel to other celestial bodies that have water.


Scientist do not have a "right" answer to this question. You will be judged on the feasibility of your generated hypothesis and the factual support you gather to support it. In other words, does you hypothesis make sense and seem possible? What proof or facts do you have to back up your hypothesis?

Your model may be one of three types:

  • Written description
  • 2-dimensional illustration
  • 3-dimensional product


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