Education: Pre-Launch Workshop

To celebrate the June 2011 launch of the Aquarius/SAC-D satellite, COSEE-Ocean Systems conducted a workshop for K-12 educators at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Day 1 of the workshop featured eminent NASA scientists who worked collaboratively with the educators to examine connections between the water cycle, ocean circulation, climate and sea surface salinity. Using an online Concept Map Builder the scientist/educator teams developed concept maps to enable effective communication of these connections.

On Day 2, educators toured the JPL facility, attached scientist-vetted content (e.g., animations and images, news items) to their online concept maps, and conducted "hands on" activities that supported the workshop theme of ocean-climate connections.

Pre-Launch Workshop: Ocean-Climate Connections
June 2-4, 2011
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Participating Scientists
Felix Landerer

Felix Landerer
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Concept Map: What Does Sea Surface Salinity Tell Us About the Global Water Cycle?
Using his concept map, Dr. Landerer explained how observing changes in sea surface salinity can give us important information about the global water cycle. His map highlights how satellites like Aquarius and GRACE can contribute to a better understanding of both sea surface salinity and the role it plays in the global water cycle.

Dr. Landerer received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, University of Hamburg, Intl. Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling. His research interests include understanding factors contributing to global and regional sea level change; Earth rotation variations due to atmosphere-ocean-land interactions; climate change; Earth's water cycle and associated surface mass redistribution; time-variable gravity; and comparing Earth System Model simulations against observations.

Tong (Tony) Lee

Tong (Tony) Lee
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Concept Map: How Does Salinity Drive Ocean Circulation?
During his presentation, Dr. Lee explained how sea surface salinity drives ocean circulation. Using high-level concepts such as temperature and density, he effectively linked how the two, with the addition of sunlight, work together to move water throughout the oceans. Through this process, he was also able to explain how ocean circulation affects things like climate and biogeochemistry.

Dr. Lee received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. His research interests include ocean circulation and its relation to climate variability on seasonal-to-decadal time scales (in particular, upper-ocean heat & salt balance; meridional transports; inter-basin linkages; tropical-extratropical exchanges); data assimilation; and adjoint sensitivity analysis.

Dimitris Menemenlis

Dimitris Menemenlis
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Concept Map: Can Aquarius Help Understand and Predict Ocean-Ice Interactions?
During this workshop, Dr. Menemenlis first explained how sea surface salinity is affected by things like evaporation and precipitation. From there, he was able to demonstrate how the Aquarius satellite measured sea surface salinity and how that improves existing computational models, which in turn helps us better understand ocean and sea ice interactions.

Dr. Menemenlis received a Ph.D. from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. His research interested include global-ocean circulation and sea-ice and their interaction with the atmosphere and biogeochemical cycles; ocean and sea-ice modeling and state estimation technology; and high-resolution global-ocean and sea-ice data synthesis.

Josh Willis
Dr. Willis, an oceanographer interested in the role the ocean plays in Earth's climate system, used his concept map to explain how climate can impact heat storage within both the ocean and atmosphere. He also explained how the Aquarius satellite can be used to better determine how these processes interact.

Dr. Willis received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California. His research interests include estimating ocean warming and sea level rise on regional to global scales; the role of the ocean in the Earth's climate system under global climate change; understanding large scale changes in the ocean and its circulation on interannual to decadal time scales; and development of analysis techniques for global oceanographic data sets.

Victor Zlotnicki
Sea surface salinity plays a significant role in ocean circulation, which has an impact on Earth's climate. Dr. Zlotnicki made these connections in his workshop presentation and discussed how the Aquarius satellite measured sea surface salinity. With this information, scientists are better equipped to understand the ocean-atmosphere interaction and its effects on climate over large time scales.

Dr. Zlotnicki is Manager (Act.) and Deputy Section Manager in the Climate, Oceans and Solid Earth Sciences at JPL. He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography (Marine Geophysics) from Massachussetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His research interests include separation of geophysical from ocean circulation signals in satellite altimetry; GRACE gravimetry; and the processing, management and effective delivery of large satellite data streams.

Background Materials
In this video, hear from Aquarius Principal Investigator Gary Lagerloef, Project Manager Amit Sen, and Project Scientist Yi Chao about the role the Aquarius satellite mission plays in the study of global ocean salinity.

In this May 2011 webinar, Gary Lagerloef and Yi Chao discuss the milestones leading up to the launch of NASA's first space-based measurements of ocean salinity across the globe - an important observation for ocean and climate studies.

Hands-On Activities
Stratification refers to the arrangement of water masses in layers according to their densities. This activity compares salt and fresh water, demonstrating that fluids arrange into layers according to their densities.

Convection and advection are the major modes of heat transfer in the ocean and atmosphere. Convection occurs only in fluids and involves vertical motion of fluid, or flow, rather than interactions at the molecular level. It results from differences in densities - hence buoyancy - of fluids. The purpose of this activity is to review the basic concepts of thermal physics and highlight applications to ocean processes by focusing on the concept of convection.

Density is the mass per unit volume (mass/volume) of a substance. Salty waters are denser than fresh water at the same temperature. Both salt and temperature are important influences on density: density increases with increased salinity and decreases with increased temperature. In this activity we will investigate how the density of an object and of the water affects whether the object will float or sink.