Influence of Oceans on Weather and Climate Science Games
In this series of games, your students will learn about ocean currents and how they transfer thermal energy to change air temperatures. The Influence of Oceans on Weather and Climate learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom, as demonstrated by research.
Scroll down for a preview of this learning objective’s games and the concepts they drive home.
Water heats up by absorbing sunlight and transforming it into thermal energy. At lower latitudes (closer to the equator), there is a great deal of direct sunlight, so the ocean water is much warmer than at higher latitudes.
Heat, in the form of thermal energy, naturally moves from warmer substances to colder ones. When the ocean is warmer than the atmosphere, it transfers heat — through conduction and radiation — to make the air warmer. When the atmosphere is warmer, the ocean absorbs its thermal energy, making the air colder. Water stores more energy than air, so its temperature doesn’t change as quickly as air temperature.
Thermal energy also moves within the ocean and within the atmosphere through the process of convection. During convection, cooler water or air sinks, and warmer water or air rises. This movement causes currents.
Ocean currents are like rivers of water moving through the sea. Some currents are caused by convection, while others, called surface currents, are driven by wind. These currents move water all around the earth, bringing warm water to cooler areas and vice versa. This redistributes thermal energy and causes changes in the weather.
Closer to the ocean, the air and water temperature stay pretty balanced because they are constantly exchanging thermal energy. That is why coastal regions usually experience more temperate climates.
Scientists use satellites, as well as instruments on boats and buoys in the water, to map surface water temperatures in the ocean. These maps help us understand the way ocean currents move and how they affect climate.
A preview of each game in the learning objective is found below.
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