Sea and Ice Salinity

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Link to Resource: http://www.earthsciweek.org/classroom-activities/sea-and-ice-salinity
Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
6 7 8 9 10
Language:English
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Summary:What is sea ice? It is simply frozen ocean water. Why is sea ice important? While it occurs mainly in polar regions, sea ice influences our global climate. Changing amounts of sea ice can affect ocean circulations, weather patterns, and temperatures around the world. Sea ice insulates the relatively warm ocean water from the cold polar atmosphere, except where cracks in the ice allow for the exchange of heat and moisture. The exchange of salt between sea ice and the ocean alters the density of ocean waters, thus influencing ocean circulation. Many animals, such as polar bears, seals, and walruses, depend on sea ice for their habitat. These species hunt, feed, and breed on the ice. Satellites provide the best way to observe sea ice, the factors that affect sea ice, and the ways sea ice affects global climate. Scheduled to launch in 2010, NASA's Aquarius mission will measure global sea surface salinity with unprecedented resolution. Even small variations in sea surface salinity — the amount of salt present near the ocean's surface — can have dramatic effects on sea ice, the water cycle, and ocean circulation. What are the effects of salinity on the formation of sea ice? Will salt water freeze more quickly or more slowly than fresh water? Try this investigation to find out.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 5
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.A; ESS2.C
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-5; MS-ESS2-4
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Developing and using models; Planning and carrying out investigations
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation; Structure and function
Subjects: climate; climate change; earth science week; hydrology; oceans; space; water; water availability
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