Burning of fossil fuels by humans puts more carbon dioxide gas (CO2) into our atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2 acts like a blanket to trap heat that would otherwise escape to space. Most people agree this ď greenhouse effectĒ will increase the Earthís average temperature. However, people disagree about how much the Earth will heat up, and whether the temperature change will be the same everywhere. One reason that people arenít sure about global warming is that we donít fully understand what happens to CO2 once it goes up a chimney or out a carís exhaust pipe. One question is how much CO2 stays in the air, and how much dissolves into the ocean. If a lot of carbon dioxide ends up in the ocean, there will be less in the air, and the effects of global warming may be reduced. Temperature is one parameter that affects how much CO2 ocean water can hold. Letís use some real scientific data to explore how the temperature of ocean water changes through the seasons.
After this lab, students should be able to:
1. Locate, select, and download BATS data from the world wide web
2. Use a graph to determine the sea water temperature at different depths in the ocean.
3. Describe how the temperature of the Sargasso Sea changes with the seasons.
4. Hypothesize how changes in sea water temperature through the year might affect the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Access BATS data (http://www.bbsr.edu/users/ctd/nisklist.html)
Select the type of BATS cruise ( BATS Core), date range (01/01/95-12/31/95), depth range (0-400 meters), and data type (temperature & depth)
Copy selected BATS data
Paste selected BATS data into Excel
Create graphs of temperature vs.. depth for each month of 1995
What was the water temperature at 100 meters depth during March, 1995?
During what month was the surface water temperature the highest?
What happened to the surface water temperature during August, 1995? Can you think of any hypotheses to explain this phenomenon?