Exploring Oceanographic Data in the Classroom Using the Laboratory for Ocean Color UsersAccess Data from the Laboratory for Ocean Color Users Homepage
Use and Relevance
- "Influence of El Niño on the Gulf of Panama Seasonal Productivity Cycle"
- "Can seasonal patterns of phytoplankton productivity be observed in the Red Sea?"
- "How can scatter plots be used to determine what relationships may exist between chlorophyll and sea surface temperature (SST) in the Gulf of Mexico?" From LOCUS homepage.
Use in Teaching
This data can be used to teach the following concepts and skills in physical and biological oceanography:
- Estuarine dynamics
- Ocean current systems
- El Niño and La Niña variability
- Climate change
- Interpreting remote sensing data to examine relationships between upwelling and primary productivity
- Understanding sea surface temperature and current oscillations
- Exploring the effects of estuaries on coastal regions
- Using the tool Giovanni to examine ocean color data
- Examining temporal and spatial changes in primary productivity through analysis of changes in chlorophyll concentration
- Generating plots to analyze potential impacts of physical oceanographic properties, such as SST and current upwelling, on primary productivity
Exploring the Data
Data Type and Presentation
Accessing the Data
SST, chlorophyll data, and quasi-true images can be obtained directly from the LOCUS website. Users can choose which subsets of data to examine. The Level 1A and 2 Browser allows users to parse data based on geographic location and data origin from satellites, including MODIS and SeaWiFS.
Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations
Ocean color data can also be visualized using the online tool Giovanni ( This site may be offline. ) (GES-DISC Interactive On-line Visualization and ANalysis Infrastructure). Users can browse SeaWiFS and MODIS satellite data through a JAVA interface and generate GIF images or ASCII output files providing SST and chlorophyll data from September 1997 to present. Data can be accessed as time-averaged, area averaged, as an animation spanning a selected time period, or as Hovmoller plots (which plot either latitude or longitude versus time).
Tools for Data Manipulation
About the Data
Limitations and Sources of Error
References and Resources
Scientific References that Use this Dataset
- Remotely-sensed chl a at the Chesapeake Bay mouth is correlated with annual freshwater flow to Chesapeake Bay: An article from Geophysical Research Letters that discusses use of SeaWiFS data and the Giovanni processing tool to examine the relationship between biogeochemical cyles and primary productivity (Acker et al., 2005).
- Satellite Sees Chlorophyll Stirred up by Hurricane Katrina: This NASA "Looking at Earth" featured article examines the use of SeaWiFS data and the Giovanni tool for examining changes in phytoplankton dynamics during Hurricane Katrina.
- Drought and Deluge Change Chesapeake Bay Biology: This Features article from the Earth Observatory discusses how remote sensing of ocean color was used to examine ecosystem changes in the Chesapeake Bay.
Education Resources that Use this Dataset
- The LOCUS homepage has six education modules and six tutorials that can be used as guided activities for use in teaching.
- LOCUS Modules and tutorials span divers topics including:
- The Southern Oceans
- Major Boundary Currents
- Different Kinds of Chlorophyll Concentration Anomalies in the North Atlantic Bloom
- Seasonal Patterns and Mysteries in the Red Sea
- A Teacher's Collection (more info) is available that provides links with information on SeaWiFS data collection and interpretation.
- A series of activities (more info) are available from the SeaWiFS project that use ocean color data to study phytoplankton, the carbon cycle, and how the ocean is viewed from space
Other Related Scientific References
- Estimation of phytoplankton production from space: current status and future potential of satellite remote sensing.: This article from the Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology reviews the use of SeaWiFS data and potential sources of error in remote sensing (Joint and Groom, 2000).
- An evaluation of MODIS and SeaWiFS bio-optical algorithms in the Baltic Sea: This article from Remote Sensing of Environment addresses the computational analyses used to process MODIS and SeaWiFS data.
Other related Education Resources
- The Teacher's Resource Collection from the University of South Florida's Ocean Remote Sensing Base for Interactive Teaching and Learning (ORBITAL) provides a number of activities related to remote sensing and ocean color.
- The Teaching with Data portal of SERC contains information on teaching with graphs, including a section on Hovmoller plots.
- When is Dinner Served? Predicting the Spring Phytoplankton Bloom in the Gulf of Maine is an Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter that uses data, including MODIS data, to predict phytoplankton blooms.