Hot, Cold, Fresh and Salty

The NOAA Ocean Service Education lab requires students create and manipulate solutions simulating different ocean water characteristics in order to recognize that the effects of salinity and temperature are the drivers of thermohaline circulation.

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Jerry Roth
NOAA Ocean Service

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educators should make sure that the link to the thermohaline circulation (and to currents, weather and climate) is clear to the students.

Students may have difficulty in creating layers of water of different temperatures and salinity. They may need practice and/or guidance.

Make sure that students add food coloring to different temp/saline solutions so they they can see layers.

An extension activity can be found here:

To maximize use of class time, have some related seat work for students to do or lecture notes to discuss during the time it takes for the solutions to cool/warm.

Modify student worksheets to ask students to justify their predictions (i.e. what is your prediction and why?)