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A Climate Story

[20-Jun-17] NASA satellites shed light on the delicate balance between our planet's ocean and atmosphere.

Actually It’s Phytoplankton!

[18-Sep-20] Ocean Ecology and NASA's PACE Mission is a new science and oceanography podcast especially designed for middle-schoolers. Join host Jamie Coull, and oceanographer co-hosts Lachlan McKinna and Ivona Cetinić, to explore ocean ecology and NASA's PACE Mission.

Aerosols and Climate

[00-null-08] This lesson plan will help students understand what aerosols are and their major sources. Students will learn the importance of atmospheric aerosols by evaluating their direct and indirect role in affecting climate. They will also learn how aerosol nano particles formation impacts Earth's climate by cloud seeding and precipitation. Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry or Environmental Sciences.

Aerosols: Tiny Particles, Big Impact

[02-Nov-10] Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it's nearly certain that you'll inhale tens of millions of solid particles and liquid droplets. These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice, and every ecosystem in between. They drift in Earth's atmosphere from the stratosphere to the surface and range in size from a few nanometers - less than the width of the smallest viruses - to several several tens of micrometers - about the diameter of human hair. Despite their small size, they have major impacts on our climate and our health.

Beyond Blue I: Why Ocean Color Really Matters

[30-Apr-19] Have you ever wondered how tiny algae help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide while fueling the marine food web? In this webinar, Project Scientist Dr. Jeremy Werdell and Mission Systems Engineer Gary Davis discuss why PACE is designed to look at the ocean, tiny airborne particles, and clouds together.

Beyond Blue II: Why Ocean Color Really Matters

[15-May-19] Are you interested in ideas that make a faraway topic like ocean color feel more personal? This series of webinars covers these topics and more. In this webinar, NASA ocean color scientists Dr. Ivona Cetinić and Aimee Neeley demonstrate a hands-on activity on the transmission, absorption, and scattering of different colors of visible light.

Beyond Blue: Why Ocean Color Really Matters

[18-Sep-20] In these excerpts from Beyond Blue: Why Ocean Color Really Matters, Project Scientist Dr. Jeremy Werdell touches on phytoplankton, red tides, and the relationships between plankton, climate, and the carbon cycle.

Beyond Blue: Why Ocean Color Really Matters

[18-Sep-20] In these excerpts from Beyond Blue: Why Ocean Color Really Matters, ....

Building Intuition for In-Water Optics and Ocean Color Remote Sensing

[00-Jan-16] This activity demonstrates optical properties of water: that different constituents in water affect the transmission, absorption, and scattering of different colors in the visible light spectrum. Inexpensive, off-the-shelf components are used to build a light sensor and source, creating a simple spectrophotometer that can measure light absorption.

Cloudy vs. Clear

[18-Oct-19] Students will analyze and interpret graphs to compare the flow of (shortwave) energy from the Sun toward China over the course of a year on cloudy versus clear days. Students will draw a conclusion and support it with evidence.

Create a Cloud in a Bottle

[00-Sep-09] In this lesson, students will 1) determine the conditions necessary for cloud formation and 2) learn about the relationships between pressure or temperature and cloud formation.

From Sea to Space to Phytopia

[12-Sep-17] Kirsten Carlson is a scientific illustrator who studied marine science and communication. As the Schmidt Ocean Institute's Artist-at-Sea during the "Sea to Space Particle Investigation," she and researchers used the latest technologies to study Pacific Ocean plankton between Honolulu and Portland.

Global Biosphere

[14-Nov-17] This data visualization shows the Earth's biosphere from September 1997 through September 2017. It represents twenty years of data taken primarily by SeaStar/SeaWiFS, Aqua/MODIS, and Suomi NPP/VIIRS satellite sensors, and shows the abundance of life both on land and in the sea.

Global View of Aerosols

[09-Nov-10] Of all the pollution that fills our lungs on any given day, the most dangerous is the small stuff. Aerosol particle pollution - airborne solid particles and liquid droplets - comes in a range of sizes. Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers pose the greatest risk to human health because they are small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs and, in some cases, enter the blood stream. These fine particles, about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair, are also a major cause of poor visibility. Learn more here.

Investigating the Climate System - Clouds

[00-Jun-03] After accepting appointments to work as weather interns in the State Climatology Office, students will be given their first task - to find answers and respond to a letter from a third-grade student requesting help with an assignment about clouds (see Activity Six on p. 11). The interns will need to conduct preliminary investigations to gain knowledge on cloud formation, cloud classification, and the role of clouds in heating and cooling the Earth; how to interpret TRMM images and data; and the role clouds play in the Earth's radiant budget and climate.

Just Another Day on Aerosol Earth

[23-Aug-18] Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it is nearly certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets. These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice, and every ecosystem in between.

Measuring Aerosols

[02-Nov-10] Although it became clear about 40 years ago that aerosols could affect climate, the measurements needed to establish the magnitude of such effects - or even whether specific aerosol types warm or cool the surface - were lacking. The situation has improved considerably. Today scientists use an array of satellite, aircraft, and ground-based instruments to monitor aerosols.

Ocean Color Wheel

[30-Apr-19] What color is your ocean? This printable PDF will let you explore phytoplankton diversity and ocean color.

Ocean-Atmosphere Understanding

[20-Aug-19] The PACE mission represents a leap forward in observing ocean color and will provide an unprecedented view of the ocean. Scheduled to launch in 2022, PACE will extend NASA's 20-plus year record of satellite observations of global ocean biology, aerosols and clouds. In this podcast, Kathleen McIntyre discusses the mission and her perspective as PACE Deputy Project Manager.

PACE Paper Model

[31-Oct-19] The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) spacecraft is designed to provide new insight into Earth's ocean and atmosphere. PACE will provide the first-ever global measurements to identify communities of microscopic algae that float in our ocean: phytoplankton. This will help us understand Earth's changing marine ecosystems, manage natural resources such as fisheries, and detect harmful algal blooms. Its atmospheric data will be used to study key issues such as air quality.

It usually takes years to build a satellite that can survive the extremes of space. This paper model replica of PACE has five parts plus an optional "Hinge". Just like NASA, you will create the final spacecraft model by assembling the parts together.

PACE Synergy

[16-Mar-17] NASA's Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Mission will provide unprecedented insight into key components of our ocean and atmosphere, systems that impact our everyday lives. While orbiting Earth, PACE will not operate in a vacuum! Its information will be used in conjunction with data collected by other missions, providing enhanced economic and societal benefits.


[26-Oct-19] Phytopia lets you explore the fascinating world of phytoplankton. This interactive tool uses concept maps - which highlight connections - to display complex information. Use Phytopia to learn about the roles these plankton play in the ecosystem, whether they are harmful or not... or just explore the beauty of these tiny titans.

Phytoplankton and Climate

[03-Oct-19] Most phytoplankton can only be seen with a microscope. But they're incredibly important.

Sea the Light

[16-Apr-18] PACE will help better identify phytoplankton communities from space. Its novel technology will keep a sharp eye on the health of our ocean. This e-brochure explains the ways PACE can differentiate between groups of plankton, based on the way they absorb, scatter or reflect light.

Sizing Up the Clouds

[00-Oct-03] In this activity, you will set up three simulated "clouds" representing three different cloud types. Students will use different methods to estimate the "precipitation" contents of each cloud type. Each method is roughly analogous to methods actually used in weather forecasting. Finally, the "precipitation" from each cloud will be released, and the students will compare their estimates to what is actually experienced on the "ground." In addition to gaining an appreciation of weather forecasting issues and technologies, students will practice math skills, including estimating, percentages, ratios, and averages.

The Air Down There

[16-Apr-18] With the OCI and polarimeters, PACE will measure an exceptionally broad range of wavelengths to reveal new details about our ocean and atmosphere. This e-brochure explains how PACE's technology will be used to reveal ocean features through the atmosphere and clouds.

The Ocean’s Green Machines

[12-Oct-09] One tiny marine plant makes life on Earth possible: phytoplankton.

Tropical Atlantic Aerosols & Clouds

[05-Nov-19] In this lesson, students will use NASA satellite data to determine the location of the greatest concentrations of aerosols during the course of a year in the tropical Atlantic region and their relationship to cloud coverage.

Visualizing Microbial Seascapes


What Are Phytoplankton?

[13-July-10] Derived from the Greek words photo (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh. Some phytoplankton are bacteria, some are protists, and most are single-celled plants. Among the common kinds are cyanobacteria, silica-encased diatoms, dinoflagellates, green algae, and chalk-coated coccolithophores.

What Color is The Ocean?

[14-Aug-16] This brochure contains background information on ocean color, plankton, and remote sensing. Included is the Simple Spectrophotometer Activity and associated worksheets.

What in the World are Aerosols?

[05-Jun-19] Do you think the word "aerosol" is only about spray cans? Take our quiz to learn about aerosols and the PACE mission!

Which Phytoplankton Are You?

[01-Mar-19] Answer four questions to discover which of these diverse organisms is most like you!