Education: Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking Questions and Defining Problems A practice of science is to ask and refine questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of how the natural and designed world(s) works and which can be empirically tested. Click on the icons (below right) to view other standards.
   Asking Questions and Defining Problems Developing and Using Models Planning and Carrying Out Investigations Analyzing and Interpreting Data Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions Engaging in Argument from Evidence Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Block diagram of the water cycle
Dr. Raymond Schmitt discusses the role that heat plays in warming the ocean and fueling the water cycle, making the case for a more globalized view of the water cycle.
Temperature and salinity graphs from Argo Float #7572

Argo floats measure salinity at pre-programmed depths on a regular schedule, sending data back to oceanographers to view. Dr. Fred Bingham walks us through what that data might look like when visualized from month to month and this gives us an idea of how salinity varies throughout the year.
Lab setup for quantifying density and specific gravity

Ted Taylor, a high school earth sciences teacher at Bangor High School, presents a host of educational resources and activities that educators can make use of to enhance their own curriculum.
Mean sea surface salinity (1950-2000)

As the Earth's climate warms, it creates an intensification of the water cycle, which means we can expect more extreme weather. Dr. Raymond Schmitt makes connections between a warming climate and its relationship to ocean surface salinity.
pH solutions

Ted Taylor, an earth science teacher at Bangor High School, has his students work through a series of laboratory activities centered around ocean acidification.
Advanced Argo float

In order to better compare Aquarius satellite data (measuring global ocean salinity) to autonomous float data, the scientists involved with the Argo program engineered an "Advanced Argo Float".
Deep sea formation

To understand Earth's climate, it is important to understand ocean circulation, which can be studied by examining ocean salinity. Julius Busecke explains how North Atlantic deep water is formed and how that drives global ocean circulation.
Temperature and salinity profiles in the SPURS region

Simply gathering oceanographic data is not enough: scientists must then translate that data into something they can see and interpret. Learn how by watching this video!

Dr. Tom Farrar explains what scientists mean when they talk about ocean salinity and defines the associated values.
Prawler mooring

Dr. Fred Bingham introduces a specific type of instrument that "crawls" up and down a mooring line. The importance of this new technology, as well as what can happen if things go wrong, are discussed in this clip.
Deployment of a surface flux mooring

During SPURS, three research moorings were deployed. In combination, these three stationary platforms collected data in the SPURS region, an area in the northern mid-Atlantic, playing a key role in understanding the high salinity area.
Freshwater budget in the SPURS area

In this clip, Dr. Tom Farrar describes his research with surface seawater fluxes and what it means to create a salinity "budget" for the SPURS study site.
Weather forecast map

In this clip, Ph.D student Julius Busecke explains that through his research, he is trying to determine how freshwater is carried throughout the ocean and how mesoscale eddies in the ocean are affecting properties like ocean salinity.
Ocean temperature profile

In this video, Julius Busecke, currently a Ph.D student at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, explains what a pycnocline is and why it is an important part of the mixed layer in the ocean.
Map of average salinity from historical ship and buoy data

The freshwater cycle and the salinity cycle operate at very different time scales; as our freshwater cycle intensifies, this difference is becoming more significant for global climate change.
Earth as ocean

Dr. Raymond Schmitt discusses the connection between the ocean and atmosphere and why that connection is so important to the global water cycle.
Annual average salinity in the North Atlantic

In this clip, Ph.D student Julius Busecke explains shallow overturning circulation and uses the North Atlantic Ocean, home of SPURS, as a case study. He also gives viewers a glimpse at some preliminary results gleaned from a recent cruise to the SPURS.
Aquarius instrument at Vandenberg Air Force Base

In this clip, Dr. Eric Lindstrom walks us through the inner workings of the Aquarius/SAC-D satellite, whose current mission is to measure global ocean salinity from space.
Trends in global salinity

Observing changes in global ocean salinity and identifying trends involves the work of many scientists to process multiple types of data.
SPURS sampling schematic

The process of studying the ocean has changed dramatically since the first ocean explorers set out on ships. Dr. Eric Lindstrom explains that modern-day oceanographers are using new technology to create a "sensor web" to study ocean interactions - changing the face of oceanography.
Flux buoy locations

Surface moorings collect continuous data from a single point in the ocean. Dr. Tom Farrar explains the types of instrumentation often found atop one of these moorings.
The global water cycle

In this clip, Dr. Stephen Riser explains that ocean salinity is a way to better understand the global water cycle. Salinity plays a role in determining seawater density, which can determine where water travels throughout the oceans.