Compare land, air, and sea surface temperatures using archival satellite imagery

  1. Discuss New England's climate changes over the seasons. Ask students what factors they think influence our temperatures. Have they ever heard weather reports discussing how the temperature along the coast will be higher or lower than inland? Why is that? (the tempering influence of the ocean)
  2. Put an enamel tile (to represent land) and a gallon of water (to represent ocean) in the sun. Take the temperature of each every hour throughout the school day.
  3. Make a note of cloud cover each time (i.e., sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy).
  4. Record the air temperature each time as well. Repeat the next morning.
  5. Graph the results.
  6. Using satellite images from various times of the year, compare the water temperature and land temperature of New England and the Gulf of Maine over several seasons.
  7. Discuss how the ocean influences coastal areas. How else does the ocean affect our weather besides temperature? (it supplies water for precipitation and differences in temperature between the water and the land cause sea breezes or land breezes)

What is the weather in Europe?

Use an atlas to determine what countries in Europe lie along same line of latitude as the school. Compare the weather in Europe with what students know about their own town's weather. The weather in western Europe is improved by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water from the Florida Straits to Europe.

After examining the weather in Europe, examine the seasonal changes in the waters of the Mediterranean. These images show the amount of phytoplankton in the water using the Coastal Zone Color Scanner imagery.

Why New Englanders go south in winter

Using a color scale for calibration, measure the temperature of the water and the land from archival infrared satellite images of the Caribbean over all seasons of the year. Compare to your findings in the Gulf of Maine.

Materials

satellite images over several seasons, enamel tile, a gallon plastic milk jug filled with warm water, thermometer, colored pencils, graph paper