Funded by NASA as part
of the Earth Science
Information Partners
Activity 10: Ocean Temperatures

Level: Grade 7-8, but easily adaptable for older (Algebra 1 or Science) students

Learning Objective: Students will take ocean temperature data from a map and plot temperature versus angle from the equator. They will learn that this is an inverse relationship - the ocean temperature decreases with distance from the equator.

Specific Science Content Standards
  • Changes in earth and sky
  • Structure and evolution of an earth system's history
  • Risks and benefits
  • Geography: Using maps to acquire and process data

Specific Mathematics Content Standards
  • Variables and data
  • Plotting and graphing
  • Linear equations
Earth Update: Hydrosphere

Introducing the activity:
Tell students that measurements from space can tell us the temperature of the ocean, both on an annual average (as this map), and as measured at on any given date. For the annual average, as here, the highest temperatures are near the equator and lower temperatures as you move either northward or southward from the equator. They can choose as data points any point at that approximate latitude (note that the temperature is not uniform for a certain latitude - some areas are hotter and some are cooler). For an expansion of this activity, they can look at today's ocean temperatures in the "latest images" section of Hydrosphere or Atmosphere modules. See how the seasons affect whether the northern or southern oceans are warmer.

Activity 10: Ocean Temperatures

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Last Update: December 12, 2001