Our Flowing Ocean

Go with the flow!

Bring the Gulf Stream into your classroom and learn abut the wonders of our flowing ocean. Use the SECOORA "Flowing Oceans" poster and this virtual ocean circulation classroom. Find out how to obtain a copy of the "Flowing Oceans" poster, ocean circulation facts and activities, a circulation glossary, and links to helpful websites.

 PosterNew PosterActivitiesGlossaryResourcesLinks

Flowing Oceans Poster

This 36 by 32 inch poster, Flowing Ocean: Understanding the Gulf Stream, brings a current of excitement to your classroom. Learn what causes ocean motion and how and why scientists study ocean currents. Look specifically at the Gulf Stream System, which dramatically affects the climate and biology of the south east U.S. coast and coastal ocean.

To get a full sized printed poster, contact one of the offices indicated below:

North Carolina Sea Grant: Terri Hathaway

South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium: Carolyn Robinson

COSEE-SE Education Specialist for Georgia:  Angela Bliss

COSEE Gulf of Mexico and The Pier Aquarium.  Contact the Pier Aquarium for shipping and handling charges.

For educators outside of FL, SC, GA and NC, contact the NOAA Outreach Unit: NOAA Outreach Distribution Unit 1305 East-West Hwy. Room 1W524 Silver Spring, MD 20910

Catching the Current Poster

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This 36 by 32 inch poster, Catching the Current: Who Goes With the Flow?, guides understanding the ecosystem of the South Atlantic Bight and the Gulf Stream as interpreted by a team of researchers. Using information from coastal ocean observing systems, biologists, chemists, geologists, physicists, and oceanographers collaborate to develop tools that support the conservation of marine resources. With these tools, they understand the shifting of the Gulf Stream, spawning and dispersal of sea life, and migration and life cycles of marine animals. Special emphasis is placed on the Charleston Bump, sea turtles feeding in shallow waters, and satellite tracking of tagged swordfish.

A full-size poster is available from the sources listed above.


Flowing Ocean Activities

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Created by science educators and edited by top oceanographers, these activities and lessons will make it easy to bring our dynamic coastal ocean into your classroom. Learn about how sea floor topography, coastal geography, wind, and water density can affect coastal ocean circulation. These lessons are aligned with national and state science education standards as well as the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles.

How does the shape of the sea floor influence surface current patterns? The Gulf Stream and Surface Current Patterns of the South Atlantic Bight is a grade level 6-12 classroom activity to explore the structure and energy of ocean currents. Students build a scale model of sea floor morphology. Gulf Stream sea surface temperature images from remote sensing satellites and an online interactive map from coastal ocean observing systems help students identify meanders, filaments, and eddies in surface current patterns.




 In the Taking the Pulse of our Coastal Skidaway River classroom activity, students take several observations to learn about the technology scientists use to learn about the coastal ocean. The measurements will not be the same as water in the coastal ocean would be; less saline, different temperatures, higher current velocity, and lower wave height than the coastal ocean are all likely.



Flowing Ocean Glossary

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The flowing ocean has a terminology all its own. Learn about the Coriolis Effect, the Ekman Spiral, eddies, gyres, and thermohaline circulation in the Flowing Ocean Glossary. Sourced from authoritative oceanography texts with a bibliography. Excellent for both spelling tests and vocabulary building. Fully illustrated with colorful and helpful diagrams. Includes an alphabetical index and cross-references between terms. A student’s guide to understanding important physical oceanography terms.




Flowing Oceans Resources

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In oceanography and in fluid dynamics in general, our observations can be made in two ways: Lagrangian measurements and Eulerian measurements. Lagrangian versus Eulerian Tracers explains the differences with examples and applications to modern oceanography. See what Lagrangian and Eulerian measurements can tell us about our flowing oceans.




 Currents are a measure of the movement, or circulation, of ocean waters. Ocean currents carry water over long distances. To some extent, currents have identifiable properties, such as temperature and salinity, which allow them to be tracked back to their place of origin. However, as the current moves, it also incorporates some chemical and physical properties of the adjacent waters through which it is flowing. Ocean Currents explains the two major forces driving ocean currents with real time SECOORA observations.





Flowing Ocean Links

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All about the Gulf Stream. Developed by the US Naval Academy and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. It includes everything from the history of the Gulf Stream to tools scientists use to learn more about it. Using this site, bring your students closer to home by taking a look at a major ocean current that affects the southeastern United States.







NOAA’s Ocean and Atmospheric Research Educational Site. Includes a full lesson on ocean currents. Students can also use the toolbar on the left of the webpage to discover El Niño, fisheries, the atmosphere, and storms—all of which directly affect or are affected by ocean currents! Includes a teacher section that provides numerous helpful printable resources.





Office of Naval Research Science and Technology Focus. From ONR, students can discover new information about ocean currents and coastal currents. Ocean in Motion outlines the characteristics of ocean currents and special information about coastal rip currents. Includes graphics and a short quiz.



 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Check out the "Oceans" and "Systems & Interactions" intersection of this activity grid for cool activities to help students grasp ocean circulation. Learn about ocean density, mixing and sinking, ocean temperatures, and how sound travels in water. NASA has provided activities by subject in an easy-to-navigate 'clickable' grid.






 NASA’s Ocean Surface Topography from Space (the JASON project). NASA’s JASON satellite website offers activities like “Voyage on the High Seas”, posters, graphics, images, and allows you to request posters, brochures, and slide shows online. The Jason-1 Oceanic Adventure game is suitable for play both within and outside of the classroom and designed for children ages 9-13. In addition to being a game, it is an eye-catching poster showing continents, oceans and all of the major ocean currents. On the reverse, there are black and white educational activities designed to be reproduced directly from the poster for use in the classroom.





 Gulf Stream Voyage. An online project which uses real time data and original materials for the discovery of the history and science of the Gulf Stream. Using these online materials, students will investigate how the Gulf Stream, a major ocean current, affects the Atlantic Ocean. Students will also learn about mankind's experiences with the Gulf Stream.






 Ocean Circulation from the Unviersity of Miami. A SECOORA partner provides a wealth of information on ocean currents at home and around the world. Includes diagrams, maps, exercises to teach about current systems based in different ocean basins. Explore 32 different current systems in the Atlantic Ocean.








Research from University of Texas: TOPEX/Poseidon. TOPEX/Poseidon is a radar altimetery satellite brought to you by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) along with the University of Texas, which provides activities, answers to frequently asked questions, programs, data, general information on oceanographic measurements, and more. Make sure you use the links along the top of the web page, which include activities and links to other ocean current and satellite websites.





The Great Ocean Conveyer Belt. Rivers flow downhill, from higher to lower elevation, their water pulled along by the Earth’s gravity. In the oceans, a great current called the thermohaline circulation, which carries as much water as 100 Amazon Rivers and is a crucial factor in shaping the Earth's climate, is also driven in part by gravity. Why is the thermohaline circulation so important for the world’s climate? The Environmental Literacy Council answers this and other questions about ocean circulation and heat transport.




 Threat of Localized Cooling Flows From Global Warming. A look at thermohaline circulation from the time of the the international climate summit in Kyoto, Japan. Researchers dicsuss the role of the ocean conveyor belt and possible consequences of its alteration.