2 – Oceans & Water Cycle

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The ocean is absorbing significant amounts of carbon dioxide and extra heat. What do changes in the ocean mean for us?

Water Cycle

National Science Foundation: The Water Cycle

Climate Central: Climate Change & Precipitation

Warming temperatures implicated in recent California droughts, Stanford scientists say

“In California, dry years coupled with warm conditions are more likely to lead to severe drought than dry, cool years, and the probability of warm and dry conditions coinciding is likely to increase under anthropogenic climate change. Warm conditions reduce snowfall, increase snowmelt and increase water loss from soils and plants…” 

March 2, 2015 • Stanford University

NASA: Water Cycle

Cities and Flooding

“The guide serves as a primer for decision and policy makers, technical specialists, central, regional and local government officials, and concerned stakeholders in the community sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and the private sector…” 

Read pages 55 to 64

2012 • World Bank

Types of Drought

“Research in the early 1980s uncovered more than 150 published definitions of drought. The definitions reflect differences in regions, needs, and disciplinary approaches…” 

Accessed July 2020 • National Drought Mitigation Center 

IPCC Assessment Report: Freshwater Resources

“Research in the early 1980s uncovered more than 150 published definitions of drought. The definitions reflect differences in regions, needs, and disciplinary approaches…” 

Read executive summary

February 2018 • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


TEDEd: How Do Ocean Currents Work?

European Space Agency: Contributors to Sea-level Rise

Verge: Sea Level Rise is so Much More Than Melting Ice

Why Do We Care So Much About El Niño?

“El Niño is just the warming of ocean waters in the tropical Pacific. So why the heck do we care so much about it? We care because this seemingly isolated event is just one part of the global climate system and can actually have major influences on the weather and climate around the world, from the U.S. to Australia to eastern Africa…” 

July 24, 2014 • Climate Central

Warming Seas and Melting Ice Sheets

“Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. We know this from basic physics. When water heats up, it expands. So when the ocean warms, sea level rises. When ice is exposed to heat, it melts. And when ice on land melts and water runs into the ocean, sea level rises…” 

August 26, 2015 • NASA

ASAPScience: The Secret to Rising Sea Levels

Wired: King Tides Show Us How Climate Change Will Threaten Coastal Cities

Grist: Ocean Acidification


What is the Cryosphere?

“Some places on Earth are so cold that water is a solid—ice or snow. Scientists call these frozen places of our planet the “cryosphere.” The word “cryosphere” comes from the Greek word for cold, ‘kryos’…” 

Accessed July 2020 • National Snow & Ice Data Center

A Terrifying Sea-Level Prediction Now Looks Far Less Likely

“One of the scariest scenarios for near-term, disastrous sea-level rise may be off the table for now, according to a new study previewed at a recent scientific conference…” 

January 4, 2019 • The Atlantic

The Race to Save Arctic Cities As Permafrost Melts

“In Russia, buildings are sagging and crumbling. In Greenland, a wildfire broke out last year. And in Alaska, entire villages may be relocated because the land upon which they’re built is no long trustworthy. All across the North, the very ground is changing, and the buildings and roads built upon the thawing permafrost are shifting and cracking…” 

May 14, 2018 • Wired

Five reasons why the speed of Arctic sea ice loss matters

“One of the most stark indicators of rising global temperatures has been the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice. For example, since the satellite data record began in 1978, average sea ice extent in September has decreased by around 13% per decade…” 

March 22, 2013 • Carbon Brief

Permafrost Melt is Now Contributing to Climate Change Emissions

“Every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases an Arctic Report Card, detailing the state of the frozen world at the top of the globe. And each year, its findings grow more dire. This year, the report revealed that the Arctic itself may now be contributing to climate change…” 

December 12, 2019 • Vox

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Optional Resources

Why Monsoons Happen

“Air moves through the tropical atmosphere in a pattern called the Hadley Circulation – warm air rises near the equator, flows toward the poles, and then descends back toward the Earth’s surface in the subtropics. The air flows along Earth’s surface from the subtropics toward the equator and then the loop starts all over again…” 

Accessed July 2020 • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

NASA: The Ocean – A Driving Force for Weather and Climate

Kurzgesagt: The Gulf Stream Explained


Ice Sheets

“Like a glacier, an ice sheet forms through the accumulation of snowfall, when annual snowfall exceeds annual snowmelt. Over thousands of years, the layers of snow build up, forming a flowing sheet of ice thousands of feet thick and tens to thousands of miles across. As the ice thickens, the increasing height of snow and ice causes the ice sheet to deform and begin to flow…” 

Accessed July 2020 • National Snow and Ice Data Center

Columbia University: What is Ocean Acidification?

METOFFICE: What is El Niño?