will design a simulation to explore how water, heat, and
salinity affect the flow of the world’s ocean currents.
They will present their results to the class.
Purpose – Exploration of the many factors that affect
the flow of the world’s ocean currents.
will be able to:
1. Design an experiment to see how wind, temperature,
and salinity work together to influence ocean currents
and present it in a report format.
2. Explain to their classmates how experiment findings
relate to ocean currents.
CONTENT STANDARD D: Earth and Space Science
ENERGY IN THE EARTH SYSTEM
Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy,
both of which create heat. The sun is the major external
source of energy. Two primary sources of internal energy
are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational
energy from the earth’s original formation.
Heating of earth’s surface and atmosphere by
the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and
producing winds and ocean currents.
Global climate is determined by energy transfer from
the sun at and near the earth’s surface. This energy
transfer is influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud
cover and the earth’s rotation, and static conditions
such as the position of mountain ranges and oceans.
Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by the
earth’s internal and external sources of energy.
These movements are often accompanied by a change in
the physical and chemical properties of the matter. Carbon,
for example, occurs in carbonate rocks such as limestone,
in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, in water as
carbon dioxide, and in all organisms as complex molecules
that control the chemistry of life.
The world’s ocean currents are driven by many
forces. The water in the upper ocean is driven primarily
by the wind. Deep ocean currents are driven by salinity
and temperature (both of which affect density). The
salinity of water is related to the geologic formations
in an area. Salinity tends to be lower near igneous
formations and higher near sedimentary formations.
Surface currents tend to move relatively quickly (warm
waters more so than cold waters), while subsurface
currents flow more slowly.
Related and Resource Websites
Ocean World - Currents
Surface and Subsurface Ocean Currents
Ocean Current Temperatures