Using the Simons CMAP data portal to investigate oceanographic processes

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Sasha Seroy, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Tansy Clay Burns, University of Washington-Seattle Campus


- An overview of the Simons CMAP data portal, data access, and visualization
- A brief walk through of the activity in which students compare data from ship-based sensors, autonomous vehicles, and satellites at two different locations.
- A summary of student experience with the activity based on student performance on the activity itself, as well as student feedback on the activity and use of Simons CMAP for educational use.


This activity introduces students to the Simons Collaborative Marine Atlas Project (Simons CMAP) data portal as a way to compare data from three different ocean observing methods (ships, autonomous vehicles, and satellites). Students use the data portal to visualize real sea surface temperature data collected using these methods to compare the scientific application of each in terms of its benefits and limitations, temporal and spatial scales, and environmental changes that can be observed. Students compare data from these methods at two locations, one tropical and one polar, to encourage thinking about the scales over which sea surface temperature changes occur in both locations and which methods are appropriate for observing which changes and processes.


This activity was created for a 100-level undergraduate course on environmental monitoring and technology where many students were non-science majors. This was a culminating data lab at the end of the course where students were given the opportunity to compare and interpret data collected using different methods that were discussed throughout the course.

Why It Works

- Engages students in visualizing, comparing, and interpreting real-world data collected using different environmental observing methods. 
- Encourages students to apply previous knowledge about temporal and spatial resolution, data analysis, and data interpretation.
- Enables students to work with large data sets and introduces an accessible data portal for oceanographic data

Presentation Media

Student Worksheet (Acrobat (PDF) 922kB Jul6 22)
Graphs for Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 923kB Jul12 22)