Lab 6: Oceans and the Carbon Cycle

The lab activity described here was developed by Candace Dunlap of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

Oceans absorb, transport and store huge amounts of carbon. In Part A, students will learn about the physical, chemical and biological processes that move carbon into and around the ocean. In Part B, students will learn about the role of phytoplankton in the ocean's uptake of carbon in greater depth by analyzing conditions and locations for its growth. They will learn about the interdependence of the nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle and how this interdependence can influence climate.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • Describe the biological, physical and chemical oceanic processes that absorb, transport and store carbon in the oceans.
  • Describe the role of phytoplankton and the microbial loop in maintaining the oceanic biological pump.
  • Describe how the oceanic carbon cycle and the oceanic nitrogen cycle are interdependent.
  • Describe how the ocean biosphere can influence climate.

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Overview and Teaching Materials

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Printable Materials

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Student Notebooks

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Science Standards

Lab 6 supports following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).


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