What’s happening to the oceans?

In this session we will start to investigate the question –

  1. What’s happening to the oceans?

Our learning outcomes for this question includes:

  1. Construct different types of data displays and predict patterns.
  2. Describe and interpret different data sets.
  3. Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts.
  4. Accurately observe, measure and record data using digital and non-digital technologies.
  5. Construct and use a range of representations, including tables and graphs, to represent and describe observations, patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate.


Sea water doesn’t stay still. It travels around the world in huge bands called currents. What do these currents look like and where do they travel to and from?

Let’s go and have look here shall we?

What were some of the features that you noticed?

Let’s investigate some of the features of oceans.

IMG_2299Activity 1: As the atmosphere traps more heat, the oceans will warm. What happens when water is heated?

What you need.

500ml conical flask, two-hole stopper, hollow glass tube, thermometer, ruler, stand with gauze mat, hotplate

What to do.

Fill the flask to the top with water. Place the hollow glass tube and thermometer in the stopper and gently press the stopper into the flask. Mount the ruler so that the water level in the glass tube can be measured. Record the temperature and water level. Heat the water slowly and record the water level at 2oC intervals. Record your data in Excel and then plot the results. Described what happened as the water was heated. How does this relate to the oceans warming? What will happen to the ocean levels as they become warmer?

Activity 2: What happens to the sea level when floating ice melts?

What you need.

Container, ice cubes, water

What to do.

Place the ice cubes in the container. Gently fill the container with water until it is almost overflowing. Watch the water level as the ice melts. Did the water overflow? Do you think melting icebergs will make the sea level rise? What about ice on a land mass, such as glaciers in New Zealand? If you not sure then look it up.

Activity 3: Most of the world’s tide gauges are on the edge are on the edge of continents that in the recent geological past had massive ice sheets on them. Can we get a good measure of trends in the world’s sea levels from such gauges?

IMG_2300What you need.

bowl, piece of wood (15cm x 15cm x 2cm), water, ice

What to do.

On the surface of the wood mark the points of the compass N,S,E and W. From E to W across the surface draw lines at 1cm intervals. Along the N and S edge mark lines at 2mm intervals. Place the wood in the water in the bowl and put 2 blocks of ice on the N edge. Note the water level on the N and S edges.

What happens to the water level on the block of wood as the ice melts?

Activity 4: Planet Health Report: Sea Level.

What you need.

Access to NASA website here.

What to do.

Read this section. On a new post entitled “Changes to sea ice and sea level” write, in sentence form, two causes of sea level rise.

Activity 5: Changes to Sea Ice and Sea Level.

What you need.

Access to NASA website here.

What to do.

Go forward and back in time looking at changes to sea ice and sea level. Write a statement for each section that summarises what you have noticed about the amount of sea ice and the level of the seas. Add these to the post you started from the previous question.



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