Ocean Currents Change Our Earth

Ocean currents — the continuous, directed movement of ocean water — affect regional climates and alter the biological and chemical characteristics of seawater.

Places on the Planet: Latitude and Longitude

Citizen scientists involved in the Geological Society of America's EarthCaching project (http://www.earthcache.org) use GPS technology and latitude and longitude coordinates to find special places on the Earth. This activity will help you learn how to find locations using latitude and longitude.

Properties of Fluids in Reservoirs

Petroleum geologists play a vital role in locating energy resources. They use a variety of methods to collect the data they need to find reservoirs of oil and natural gas. When they find these reservoirs, petroleum geologists need to calculate their volume. They also need to estimate how much they can recover (remove) from the reservoir. This helps them to determine the possible value of the discovery. By using a model, this investigation will help you to understand the physical relationships between natural gas, oil, and water in a reservoir and how these relationships can affect recovery.

Properties of Fresh Water and Sea Water

The students will set up three demonstrations to observe the properties of water. They will explore the boiling point of water, the freezing point of water, and the ability of water to store heat. These activities can be done individually or as a set.

Rain and Soil

When it rains, much of the water drains directly into the ground. But why?

Sea and Ice Salinity

What is sea ice? It is simply frozen ocean water. Why is sea ice important? While it occurs mainly in polar regions, sea ice influences our global climate. Changing amounts of sea ice can affect ocean circulations, weather patterns, and temperatures around the world. Sea ice insulates the relatively warm ocean water from the cold polar atmosphere, except where cracks in the ice allow for the exchange of heat and moisture. The exchange of salt between sea ice and the ocean alters the density of ocean waters, thus influencing ocean circulation. Many animals, such as polar bears, seals, and walruses, depend on sea ice for their habitat. These species hunt, feed, and breed on the ice. Satellites provide the best way to observe sea ice, the factors that affect sea ice, and the ways sea ice affects global climate. Scheduled to launch in 2010, NASA’s Aquarius mission will measure global sea surface salinity with unprecedented resolution. Even small variations in sea surface salinity — the amount of salt present near the ocean’s surface — can have dramatic effects on sea ice, the water cycle, and ocean circulation.

Splish Splash

Crucial to our existence, water sustains all life on Earth. Following the old adage, "What goes around comes around," water moves continuously through the stages of the hydrologic cycle (evaporation, condensation, and precipitation). How does our drinking water fit into this hydrologic cycle? Where did the water we drink fall as precipitation? Did this water percolate down into the ground as part of a groundwater system, or did it remain on the surface as part of a surface water system? What path did this water follow in order to become our drinking water? This lesson will explore the hydrologic cycle and water's journey to our glass.

Traveling Nitrogen

Nitrogen is an element that is found both in living things and the nonliving parts of the Earth system. In this classroom activity, students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and how nitrogen is relevant to living things.

Wash This Way!

People interact with Earth’s water (hydrosphere) in a variety of ways. We depend upon water for survival, but we also need it to keep clean and help avoid spreading disease. On our ever-changing Earth, the supply of fresh water can be limited for some humans. We need good techniques to make the best use of the fresh water we do have. For example, when you wash your hands, how do you do it? With soap and water? With water alone? Do you scrub your hands or simply rinse them under the faucet? Does it even matter? Yes, it does!

Water Filtration

Each group will design a water filtration system and present to the class, why they picked their design.


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