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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!).
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.
The Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument aboard the Seastar satellite collected ocean data for more than a decade.
The Earth acts as a giant engine that uses solar power to move air in the atmosphere and water in the ocean.
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.
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.