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  Seaweek 2003    

Exploring Our Oceans

Oceanography from Space
by Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria
From a workshop presented at
STAV Conference, November 2001

"We still know more about the surface of our moon and Mars than we do about what lies beneath the surface of the sea. There may be life elsewhere, but there is no other place we know of with a sea of life, no other place with a built in life support system. For ages it has taken care of us. The time has now clearly come for us to take care of the sea."

Sylvia A. Earle, Marine Biologist and Undersea Explorer

Planet Ocean

Over 70% of the surface of our planet is covered with water. When viewed from space the earth appears as the blue planet because of the large area covered in water. Much of the watery surface of our planet has never been seen or explored. Vast mountain ranges and deep canyons all remain hidden from view. Perhaps if we were to really think about the name of our planet we should call it Planet Ocean.

The study of our ocean and their processes in some depth has never been easy. The use of satellites to study understand the way in which our ocean planet functions has been a major breakthrough when compared to the methods used in the past. Back in the 1860's the Royal Society of London was persuaded to finance HMS Challenger to explore the oceans in a comprehensive program to investigate "every thing about the sea".

It complied an enormous amounts of data on the physical and biological conditions that existed in every ocean. 50 large volumes of data were compiled over the four years it travelled the oceans. Satellites used in modern oceanography, such as the Topex -Poseidon satellite, can record accurate information about the globe in ten days. Use of satellite collected data is referred to as remote sensing as the data is collected is often great distances from the ocean surface.

While resources for teaching about many of the other environments on the planet are readily available, material suited for students on the oceans have been lacking. Educators now have information provided through remote sensing that is readily adaptable, to bring the ocean into the classroom and, in doing so, provide opportunities to engage in ocean issues. In the last decade there has also been an information revolution called the World Wide Web.

We now have the opportunity to develop new strategies for teaching and learning using the ocean resources available on the World Wide Web, including enormous amounts of data collected by satellites, to enable students to deal with real events that are occurring in real time.

The variety of websites and their potential for bringing the exciting world of exploration of the oceans onto the classroom computer is vast. These sites allow students to access data collected by leading scientific, geographic, governmental, and international agencies that have an interest in how the ocean functions, is managed and utilised.

However, while new resources are being developed by a range of agencies that allow school students to consider and use data provided by organisations like NASA, there still remains a vitally important role for the classroom teacher to interpret and facilitate the use of the information provided. This workshop has been developed to consider a number of issues as examples of what can be done using the new technologies to bring remote sensing of the oceans of the world to students on the classroom PC.

In this workshop participants will

  • explore the use of remote sensing as applied to the science of oceanography
  • investigate a number of ocean science issues that can be explored through the use of satellite data
  • engage in oceanography investigations that could be used in classes
  • investigate a range of resources for teaching about oceans

Next ....    

Search site

  Planet Ocean
  Remote Sensing
  Investigation 1 - Ocean Surface Temperatures
  Investigation 2 - Phytoplankton Distribution
  Investigation 3 - El Nino Southern Oscillation
  Building WWW Remote Sensing Activities on Oceans

Moore Educational

Nautilus Educational


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