The Ocean's Role in Weather and Climate
The Effects of the Atlantic Ocean!
The first of two Web Seminars about the Ocean's Role
in Weather and Climate was held on Tuesday, December 12, 2006, from 6:30
p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Tom
Delworth, leader of NOAA's Climate Dynamics and Prediction Group at the
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ. The seminar focused on the
influence of the Atlantic Ocean on climate, from Atlantic hurricanes to African
Ninety-seven (97) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the
NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Alaska, Arkansas,
Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia,
Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Some of the participants attended the symposium
on the same topic at the Area Conference in Baltimore.
In this presentation educators had the opportunity to learn about the influence
of the Atlantic Ocean on regional weather and climate. As water circulates through
the Atlantic Ocean, from the tropics to higher latitudes, energy is transported
in the form of heat. This transported energy is equal to the amount of energy required
to support the electricity consumption of the United States population for 2000
years. Not only is the Atlantic Ocean the cradle for the formation of hurricanes,
storms that move from east to west over the ocean, but data also shows that the
sea surface temperature changes in the Atlantic Ocean are responsible for droughts
taking place in the African continent. Dr. Delworth described how scientists are
using computer models to forecast future weather patterns, like the possible number
of hurricanes and drought conditions.
Data collected by scientists over the last 100 years show an increase in the sea
surface temperature of the Atlantic Ocean. This increase in sea surface temperature
can be related to the increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere due
to the consumption of fossil fuels, Dr. Delworth explained. Computer models show,
that without changing our consumption levels, the sea surface temperature of the
Atlantic Ocean will continue to increase. This increase in temperature can affect
negatively people, plants, and animals living in the ocean and in coastal areas
around the world. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide on the Effects
of Oceans on Weather and Climate, grades 9-12.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
"Fantastic information about climate modeling and how the North Atlantic warming
affects so much."
"Fits very nicely in oceanography, and meteorology. We're getting ready to start
a global warming unit where I will actually have my kids take a side and defend
"My students are constantly asking questions about global warming and other current
topics. This discussion has presented the most current information in a format that
was readily accessible."
"In sixth grade, driven by the state standards, we are very interested in this
topic. This seminar and ones like it help me better understand the topic, and therefore
be a better facilitator to student understanding."
Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions,
and a job well done!
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Underwritten in part by: NOAA