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King's Centre for Visualization in Science


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Ebooks
  • Videos, 3 seconds

Regional Focus



Downloadable MP4/M4V

Climate Change and the Oceans

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  • In this self-paced lesson, students will learn about the vital role that oceans play in regulating the climate.
  • Students will learn that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have impacted the oceans' carbon cycle resulting in ocean acidification, melting sea ice, and sea level rise.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson uses interactive learning tools, graphs, maps, and photographs to help students understand the connections between the oceans and the climate.
  • The lesson includes a pop-up glossary to assist students in accessing definitions.
  • The lesson is divided into five sections. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is part 8 of 9 in Explaining Climate Change, a series of lessons from The King's Centre for Visualization in Science.
  • This resource provides some advanced math and chemistry examples that may be challenging for some students.
  • Some of the data is not current. Teachers may want to note the following:
    • The Ocean Trends learning tool only has data from 2010.
    • Page 2/4 in Key Idea 4: The Oceans' Carbon Cycle and Carbon Speciation features maps from the 1990s.
    • Page 3/5 in Key Idea 5: Immeasurable Importance refers to severe flooding in Bangladesh in 1998.


  • Cross-curricular connections could be made with geography, history, and social studies using the topics of climate migration, changing landscapes, and shipping routes.
  • Teachers could use some of the Lesson 8 Questions, which appear at the end of the lesson, as science journal prompts, small group discussion questions, or quiz questions to check for understanding.
Scientist Notes
There is no contradiction in the animation used that involved the flow of eddies, currents, thermohaline circulation, and atmospheric circulation. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.9-12 Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
      • D2.Geo.4.9-12 Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.
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