El Niño
El Niño is a set of phenomena caused by periodic changes in the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific Ocean. During El Niño, the trade winds, which usually blow warm surface waters to the west, die down or even reverse. When the wind stops blowing the warm water to the west, the warm water pools in the east, triggering a number of effects in the atmosphere and ocean. The U.S. Ocean and Coastal Observing System maintains numerous data sets that can be used to study El Niño. This curriculum will deal primarily with two types of data that are measured using satellite instruments: sea surface temperature and the concentration of chlorophyll-a.
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Teacher's Guide: Investigating El Niño Using Real Data
Teacher's Guide: Investigating El Niño Using Real Data hot! Tooltip
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Date added: 01/31/2008
This guide contains five activities designed for grades 6-8 that incorporate real data from NOAA to help students understand the phenomenon of El Niño. The activities are organized as a pathway with five levels of increasing sophistication. Students first need to understand how to access and interpret sea surface temperature data, then how to identify and measure changes in temperature over time. Along the way, they will learn how these changes relate to other physical systems, specifically ocean circulation and the phenomenon of upwelling. Ultimately, students will examine these relationships with respect to biological systems, using data on chlorophyll as a measure of productivity. The goal is for students to become experienced with these kinds of data and the tools for accessing them, so that, by the end of the module, they can continue to explore data sets driven by their own inquiry.
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Supporting Materials
Supporting Materials
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This folder contains copies of all the masters, handouts, and supporting materials referenced in the Investigating El Niño Using Real Data Teacher Guide. Most of these pages are also included in the Teacher Guide, but are available here as separate files for your convenience.

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