Ocean's Effect on Climate and Weather: Global Circulation Patterns

Science ObjectDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Ocean’s Effect on Weather and Climate SciPack. It explores ocean circulation patterns and the effect oceans have on climate. Water in the oceans hold a lot of thermal energy (more than an equal amount of land). Throughout the ocean there is a global, interconnected circulation system that transfers this thermal energy across Earth. The shape of ocean basins and adjacent land masses influence the path of circulation. As ocean currents transfer thermal energy to various locations, the temperature of the atmosphere above the ocean is affected. For example, the condensation of water that has been evaporated from warm seas provides the energy for hurricanes and cyclones. When the pattern of thermal energy released into the atmosphere changes, global weather patterns are affected. An example of a large-scale change like this is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which changes the pattern of thermal energy released into the atmosphere in the Pacific.

  • Elementary
  • Middle

Community ActivitySaved in 8910 Libraries

Reviews (9)
  • on Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:35 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Ocean's Effect on Climate and Weather: Global Circulation Patterns Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are very beneficial! Not only will they enrich my teaching, the knowledge will enrich my life.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:30 AM

I found this a very informative piece. It clearly explains the oceans currents and how they create and and affect weather in different parts of the world. The interactives and included quizzes helped me to understand the concepts and then check my understanding. I think the interactives would be great to use in the classroom.

Anne  (Maysville, NC)
Anne (Maysville, NC)

  • on Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:01 PM

This is a helpful resource material for enriching lessons on the effect of ocean on climate and weather. Students will find this as a more comprehensive view on how global circulation patterns be effected by oceans and other bodies of water.

Celia  (Forestville, MD)
Celia (Forestville, MD)

  • on Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:09 AM

As ocean water moves around the globe, its temperature changes depending on the amount of solar energy it absorbs or releases at any given location; this affects the weather and climate of places located near oceans. Wow...the clarity with which this resource explains global circulation patterns is great. The ocean and wind circulation interactives and the hands-on activities help the reader to visualize and better understand the science concepts. In addition, the graphics and diagrams are brilliant, and hook and hold the attention of a diverse scholar population. Excellent resource.

Lorrie Armfield  (Laurel, MD)
Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD)

  • on Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:32 AM

This resource does a solid job of tying global weather circulation patterns in the atmosphere to ocean circulation. Good sims and examples are provided, and could be used by middle school age students to reinforce concepts.

Jennifer Rahn  (Delafield, WI)
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)

  • on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:49 AM

The global circulation patterns resource was highly informative, with animations and clickable explanations generously scattered throughout. Highly recommended!

Christine Shultz  (Riverview, FL)
Christine Shultz (Riverview, FL)

  • on Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:18 PM

I like the resource

kelly d  (blacksburg, SC)
kelly d (blacksburg, SC)

  • on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:18 PM

I noticed in this Science Object that the wind and ocean currents all "circulate" in a circular motion. The ocean currents are affected by the wind currents but I didn't grasp why the wind currents move in a circular pattern! Maybe working on this Friday evening after a long workweek had me in a daze; who knows! Good, relevant information of relative difficulty to "master"?

Duane Little  (Washington, DC)
Duane Little (Washington, DC)

  • on Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:34 PM

The text material, the animations, the interactive support was outstanding!!! I was engaged the whole time. I liked being able to go back and forth in the material to review and confirm my learning. The difficulty I experienced was in the wording of the quiz. Probably, I'll become accustomed to it.

Jessie Minter  (Hico, Texas)
Jessie Minter (Hico, Texas)

Free - NSTA Members

$5.95 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.