Education: Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing and Interpreting Data Scientific investigations produce data that must be analyzed in order to derive meaning. Because data patterns and trends are not always obvious, scientists use a range of tools - including tabulation, graphical interpretation, visualization, and statistical analysis - to identify the significant features and patterns in the data. Scientists identify sources of error in the investigations and calculate the degree of certainty in the results. Modern technology makes the collection of large data sets much easier, providing secondary sources for analysis. 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

In this clip, Dr. Gary Lagerloef discusses how scientists were able to use Aquarius data to observe major freshwater events in the Amazon River outflow and the Bay of Bengal.
Discharge of the Mississippi River at Belle Chasse, LA

Dr. Gary Lagerloef uses data collected from NASA's Aquarius satellite to show ocean processes taking place in the Gulf of Mexico (September, 2011).
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.
Distribution of sunlight on earth

Ted Taylor, a high school earth sciences teacher at Bangor High School, discusses how to get more ocean science topics into the classroom.
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.
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".
Graph of brightness temperature vs. sea surface temperature

Dr. Yi Chao explains how satellite technology has evolved throughout the years to deal with the challenge of measuring ocean salinity from space.
Carbon flux

Dr. Gary Lagerloef explains how understanding ocean salinity can help us to better understand human-induced global climate change.
Data swaths using the Aquarius instrument

In this clip, Dr. Gary Lagerloef discusses how scientists were able to increase the accuracy of the Aquarius satellite through adequate sampling and broader spatial coverage.
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!
R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa

In this clip, Julius Busecke, a Ph.D student at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, explains how these rainfall patterns create tropical and desert regions.
Fresh pool evolution

In this clip, data from a Lagrangian Float - as well as its interpretation - are shared.
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.
SPURS float data

Learn how (and why) sea surface temperature and salinity might be varying at the SPURS site in the Atlantic Ocean.
Graph of a freshening event in the SPURS region

Dr. Stephen Riser explains the importance of advancing oceanographic research equipment and why a rain event over the ocean can tell us a lot about how the ocean works to move water from place to place.
Soil moisture and ocean salinity (SMOS) satellite

Drs. David Le Vine and Gary Lagerloef explain how remote sensing has evolved throughout the past few decades, focusing specifically on ocean salinity research in the 2000s.
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.
Seaglider dive path

This clip highlights the mechanisms by which a seaglider, a popular type of oceanographic research equipment, moves throughout the ocean and how it is able to collect and transmit data to satellites in space.
Surface drifter

As part of the SPURS study, 40 surface drifters were deployed to measure salinity and other variables. Dr. Fred Bingham explains their ability to move through the ocean autonomously, and what information that they can provide researchers.
Sea surface salinity for the SPURS region

Dr. Fred Bingham talks how using both satellites and in-situ equipment is creating a more accurate picture of processes occurring in the salty Atlantic.
International space station

Dr. Eric Lindstrom talks about the connection between ocean-going vessels and ocean-observing satellites and how both are vital in learning more about how ocean circulation works and affects our planet.
Annual mean sea surface temperature

The Water Cycle (00:03:18)  
In this clip, Dr. Raymond Schmitt talks about how varying ocean temperatures play a role in the global water cycle.
SeaWiFS global biosphere

Just like the land, the ocean has areas of high evaporation, little rainfall, and little life - and they are the ocean's "deserts". One such area contains the Atlantic ocean's salinity maximum, where the SPURS cruise took place.
Wave glider deployed from the R/V Knorr

What Are Wave Gliders? (00:03:43)  
In this clip, Dr. Fred Bingham gives an overview of the various components aboard a wave glider.
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.
Map of annual mean seawater salinity at 1km depth

Dr. Stephen Riser explains that sea surface salinity can vary not only throughout the global ocean, but also from surface to deep.
Photorealistic view of the water cycle

One way Aquarius data is being used is to better understand how the ocean and atmosphere interact: how they "couple" to create processes we experience on a daily basis like evaporation and precipitation.