Physical and Earth Sciences
Worcester State University
El Niño and Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions in the Tropical Pacific part of Cutting Edge:Oceanography:Activities
This activity investigates the oceanographic and climatic characteristics of El Niño/La Niña (ENSO) events using observational data from moored ocean buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Data are obtained from NOAA's Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) project website which provides a web-based interface for accessing and displaying oceanographic data. In addition to providing an introduction to ENSO, this activity is designed to give students practice interpreting real oceanographic observations by emphasizing the description and identification of patterns in large data-sets. Students first describe patterns in sea-surface and cross-sectional transects of ocean temperatures and surface winds associated with "normal", El Niño, and La Niña years and then use this as a basis for classifying observations from unknown years and interpreting connections between oceanographic and atmospheric processes occurring in the tropical Pacific.
Understanding Tides part of Cutting Edge:Oceanography:Activities
In this activity students investigate tidal phenomena by exploring water level observational (or predicted tidal) data from several locations around the world that provide examples of semi-diurnal, diurnal, and mixed tides. Students are asked to identify patterns of variability and differences among the sites on time scales of just a few days and over a period of a couple months. The activity is designed more to get students thinking about tides, asking questions about the causes of tidal variations, and thinking about ways to answer these questions, as opposed to providing an explanation of tidal processes. The activity leads to a body of observations that generate numerous questions about tides. The goal is to capture student's interest before spending subsequent class time developing a conceptual/theoretical model of how tides work.