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Students will use coloring sheets to create a color coded model of El Niño. If the Data Literacy Map Cube is used with this, students should color their models first.

Can you tell El Nino from La Nina? This interactive was created by UCAR Center for Science Education using satellite images of the height of the ocean surface.  Students interpret these images to identify whether they represent El Nino, La Nina, or neither event (La Nada!).

Students will investigate the differences in sea surface height during an El Niño event by creating a model with gelatin, sherbet and whipped creme.

The world's ocean is heated at the surface by the sun, and this heating is uneven for many reasons. Earth's rotation, revolution around the sun, and tilt all play a role, as do the wind-driven ocean surface currents.

Turbulent storms churn the ocean in winter, adding nutrients to sunlit waters near the surface. Each spring this gives rise to massive blooms of phytoplankton. These microscopic plants harvest vital energy from sunlight through photosynthesis.

Salinity is key to studying the water cycle and ocean circulation, both of which are related to climate. Over decades, the amount of salt in ocean basins has been fairly stable. The water cycle operates on much faster time scales, however, causing changes in salinity patterns.

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