Your Own El Nino

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Link to Resource: http://www.earthsciweek.org/classroom-activities/your-own-el-nino
Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
8 9 10
Language:English
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW); National Weather Service (NWS)
Summary:El Niño storms have taken thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage in recent decades. Where do these storms come from? Every two to seven years, trade-winds in the Pacific Ocean slow down or reverse their direction — no one is sure why. Normally, the Pacific trade winds blow vigorously towards the west. This causes warm surface water to pile up in the western Pacific, so that the sea surface is actually about 1/2 meter higher at Indonesia than at Ecuador. These winds also cause sea surface temperatures to be about eight degrees Celsius higher in the west, with cool temperatures off South America, due to an upwelling of cold water from deeper levels. But when the trade winds slow down, everything changes. Water temperatures become warmer in the eastern Pacific and colder in the west. Nutrient upwelling slows, and fish populations become much smaller along the Pacific coast of South America. Rainfall follows the warmer water, causing flooding in Peru and drought in Indonesia and Australia. Because these changes can be highly destructive, advance warning of El Niño’s approach is important for emergency preparation. NOAA satellites are constantly collecting information on sea surface temperatures around the globe. NOAA also operates a network of buoys that measure temperature, currents, and winds in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Here’s how to create a miniature El Niño in your own kitchen!
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 8
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.C
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-4; MS-ESS2-6
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Developing and using models
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation; Systems and system models
Subjects: climate; drought; earth science week; el nino; flood; noaa; oceans; severe weather; weather; weather hazards
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