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Climate Change and the Oceans
Lesson 8 Questions

Test your knowledge by working through the following questions. Refer back to the lesson pages and the Climate Trends learning tool (linked below) as needed.

The Global Regulator
  1. What is one technical term used to describe the way ocean water circulates around the entire globe?
  2. What two properties of sea water drive this global oceanic circulation?
  3. Challenge: What oceanic changes characterize an El Niño event? How does El Niño affect weather patterns over land?
  4. Define heat capacity. Why does the ocean hold so much more heat than the atmosphere?
Energy Balance
  1. How much energy (in kJ) does it take to heat 1000L of water from 15°C to 25°C?
  2. Describe how increased evaporation over tropical ocean waters puts the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt at risk.
  3. Describe at least two climatic changes that would happen if the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt were to stop functioning.
  4. Thinking about feedback cycles, why will sea levels continue to rise long after atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are kept in check?
Ocean Acidification
  1. Imagine yourself as a research drifter (a floating device used to explore ocean currents), floating in the ocean. Roughly estimate how long it would take for you to take a round trip journey around the globe, from the surface layers, through the deep layers, and back again. Will it take you a few years? hundreds of years? thousands of years? longer? Consult outside sources if necessary.
  2. Open the Ocean Trends learning tool. What is the slope of the trend in pH (Proxy and Measured) from 1988 to 2009?
  3. What happens to carbon dioxide when it dissolves in water? How does that affect the pH of the water?
  4. Refer back to the CO2 and Ocean pH learning tool. What will the pH of the surface of our ocean be in the year 2100 C.E. if we follow the B1 SRES scenario?
Carbon Speciation
  1. Describe one benefit of the oceans being a carbon dioxide sink. Describe one detriment.
  2. What are the two most biologically relevant polymorphs of solid calcium carbonate? Where in the ocean are they currently supersaturated?
  3. Challenge: The carbonate ion is essential for marine shell production; it is also becoming less prevalent in surface ocean waters. How does a pH drop affect a marine creature's ability to produce its shell?
Immeasurable Importance
  1. What percentage of atmospheric oxygen comes from marine photosynthesizers?
  2. In 1998, when the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta flooded Bangladesh, how many people were made homeless? What percentage of Bangladeshi people work in agriculture?
  3. Why is the climate of Western Europe much milder than those of other regions of the world on the same latitude?
  4. When did European Space Agency first start keeping records of Arctic sea ice cover? When was the Northwest Passage first declared navigable?