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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.This animation shows the long-term average sea surface temperature, with red and yellow depicting warmer waters and blue depicting colder waters.  




The world's surface air temperature is getting warmer. Whether the cause is human activity or natural changes in the Earth System—and the enormous body of evidence says it’s humans—thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. 


Helping students build their understanding of Earth's spheres and how they are connected is difficult.  Review the graphics to help identify the parts of the Earth System and the processes that connect them at the local, regional, and global scales.




The ocean's surface is not level, and sea levels change in response to changes in chemistry and temperature. Sophisticated satellite measurements are required for scientists to document current sea level rise.




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