Working with Scientific Data Sets in Matlab: An Exploration of Ocean Color and Sea Surface Temperature
This activity was selected for the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Computational, Quantitative, and Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see https://serc.carleton.edu/teaching_computation/materials/activity_review.html.
This page first made public: Oct 12, 2015
Context for Use
This exercise is given in a course called Ecosystem Assessment. We go through a series of exercises and case studies, where students gather environmental data about a particular marine ecosystem and align data collection and analysis with an ecosystem-based management plan.
Description and Teaching Materials
A full description of this activity is included in the attached file, "Working with Scientific Data Sets in MATLAB: An Exploration of Ocean Color and Sea Surface Temperature." In this activity, students are guided through a series of steps including (1) accessing online ocean color data, (2) reading and georeferencing the data with MATLAB, (3) sub-setting the data, (4) plotting, and (5) creating a batch script to repeat the above steps on multiple files. With each step, students are asked specific questions to help them understand the data sets they are working with and the purpose of the MATLAB commands and functions they are implementing. At the end of the guided activity, students are presented with an assessed challenge task. This tasks involves performing the same set of steps using a sea surface temperature data set. The activity assumes that the College or University has a MATLAB license that students can access. Data for this activity are freely available and easy to download from the supplied websites. This exercise is not posted anywhere else and has not yet been thoroughly evaluated and tested.
Working with Scientific Data Sets in Matlab: An Exploration of Ocean Color and Sea Surface Temperature (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 212kB Jun20 16)
Live Script (MATLAB Live Script 16kB Oct11 19)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Upon completion of the guided and challenge tasks students provide plots of annual averaged ocean color, or chlorophyll (2002-2015) and sea surface temperature (1981-2012) for inclusion into a ecosystem based management report. They use this data to describe chlorophyll and temperature patterns in their chosen region and try to determine what is causing this inter annual change. Both the guided and challenge tasks are assessed with the attached grading rubric.
Grading Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 45kB Oct11 15)
References and Resources
1) Background information on ocean color data (http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/)
2) Ocean Color Data (https://oceandata.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/MODIS-Aqua/Mapped/Annual/4km/chlor_a/)
3) Description of NetCDF Data format (http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/software/netcdf/
4) Sea Surface Temperature Data (http://oceandata.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/MODIS-Aqua/Mapped/Annual/4km/sst4; ftp://podaac-ftp.jpl.nasa.gov/OceanTemperature/avhrr/L3/pathfinder_v5/annual/day/04km/)
5) User Manual for Use of Pathfinder Sea Surface Temperature Data (ftp://podaac-ftp.jpl.nasa.gov/OceanTemperature/avhrr/L3/pathfinder_v5/docs/usr_gde4_0.html#data set details)