A Web Based
Have you ever watched the evening news with your folks and
wondered how the weather person could have been so wrong? You wore shorts
to school that day only to find yourself freezing during lunch.
Predicting the weather is a very difficult task. The many factors which
impact your daily local weather can be thousands of miles away, so
Meteorologists use a variety of different remote tools including satellites and
buoys to help them make predictions. The buoy to the right is an example of a
tool used by scientists. These experts make their predictions by building
models using historical and current data.
El Niņo and La Niņa cycles are
examples of these complex patterns. In this investigation, you will learn
more about El Niņo and La Niņa
cycles, and how they impact the weather in your area. To accomplish this
task, you will be logging into one of same ocean buoys that scientists use to
develop their models.
You will be
part of an expert team. Your team will consist of three or four students,
and be responsible for collecting data, organizing it in an appropriate graphic
form, and analyzing it for the purpose of making weather predictions in your
community. After making your prediction, you will write a speculation
paper that details how you reached your conclusion. Your last task will
be to share your findings with the scientific community.
approaches, you will be on the hot seat, and youll get a taste of what it's
like to be a weather person. To be successful, you need to ask great
questions, seek out the answers, develop new relationships, and take a stand.
Your team will be taking a seven-step approach to accomplishing the
project. You will begin by learning more about El Niņo
and La Niņa. After gaining a solid understand
of these cycles, you will log into an ocean buoy and begin gathering your data
and building a model. Your final task will be to craft an effective
speculation paper about the coming winter, and share your findings with the
Step 1: In the news
El Niņo and La Niņa cycles have a
tremendous impact on the world's weather. It is hard to believe that
ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can impact
mid-America states, but the national news organizations have reported on the
extensive impact of the cycle. Read the two articles below, and write a short
summary of each one. Each group member is responsible for these summaries,
which should be a total of one page for the two summaries.
Step 2: Background
and assign each member of your group one of the Web pages listed below.
After exploring the Web pages individually, get back together in your group and
answer the following questions.
- What is the difference between El Niņo and La Niņa?
- Why is predicting these cycles
- What are the possible impacts on
weather due to a La Niņa cycle?
- What are the possible impacts on
weather due to an El Niņo cycle?
- Is the earth always in either an El Niņo or El Niņa cycle?
- Write and answer four additional
questions that you believe would help people understand the El Niņo and La Niņa Cycles.
La Niņa and El Niņo - Climate Prediction Center
La Niņa Impacts - Climate Prediction Center
El Niņo Impacts - Climate Prediction Center
El Niņo Basics
- Climate Prediction Center http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outreach/basic.html
Step 3: Review the (TAO) story (Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project)
The TAO story is an animated PowerPoint-like presentation on
what the Tropical Atmospheric Ocean Project is all about. Each group member is
required to write 250 words on what TAO is and how and why they do what they
do. Explain who benefits from TAO.
to start gathering sea surface
temperatures (SST), so your team can begin to build a useful model.
You will be using a buoy located at 110 degrees West and 0 degrees North. You will begin by
gathering today's real-time data, and then adding that value to the temperatures
for the last 14-days. First you will want to make a data table, and later
you will convert this to graphs.
Current Real-Time Data
Last 14-days http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/ftp/taodata/realtime/tao_east.met
(Make sure you use the data from the buoy
at 110 W)
- Use the link above to collect the
today's daily (SST) for the 110 W 0 N
buoy. (Note: When you place the mouse on the correct buoy, the
window below will show the real-time information.)
- Access and print the data for the last
- Calculate temperature anomaly,
which is the difference from the average temperature for each day.
- The average,
or mean SST values are listed in this table. (Mean SST Values) http://www.powayschools.com/projects/elnino/means.htm
- Place the data and calculations in a
well-constructed table. Be sure to include a table title, column headings,
and units. Include daily temperatures, Mean Temperatures, and
- Create a line graph for both the SST
data and your calculated anomalies.
anomaly graph) http://www.powayschools.com/projects/elnino/anomaly.htm)
Step 4: Historical model
have been tracking SST for many years, and it has allowed them to create a
historical model that helps them predict El Niņo and
La Niņa cycles. Use the link below to answer
the following questions:
Which two years show the greatest "positive"
Which two years show the greatest "negative"
Compare the anomaly graph you created in step 5 with the
historical anomaly graph. Does it look like the current year is either an
El Niņo or La Niņa cycle?
How could you make your model a better predictor of the cycle?
Anomaly Graph- TOA/TRITON
Step 5: Temperatures and
The buoy we
have been tracking is several thousand miles away, so it is hard to believe
that sea surface temperatures can have an impact on your local weather.
Use the links below to investigate how the El Niņo
and La Niņa cycles impact your local weather.
You may want to split up the links between each of your team members, and allow
each individual to become a site expert. Be prepared to use this information
when you write your final speculation paper.
Niņa Seasonal U.S. Temperature & Precipitation - Climate Prediction
Mean Temperatures and Precipitation for the
United States during Strong El Niņos - Climate Prediction Center
of CAUTION - by William S. Kessler NOAA / Pacific Marine Environmental
and Warm Episodes by Season - Climate Prediction Center
Step 6: Speculation
for you to take a stand. The model you developed in step 5 was only for a
15-day period, so you may also want to extend your graph to include a longer
period of time. You can access additional SST by visiting the TOA / TRITON Data Delivery
Make sure you are gathering data from the correct buoy.)
Step 6: Speculation (continued)
world currently in an El Niņo or La Niņa cycle? Is the world having normal weather now,
not influenced by any El Nino? What are
your predictions for temperature and precipitation in your local area? You will
be required to provide solid support when making your case. Your group needs to
work together to reach consensus. After your group has reached consensus,
your task is to construct a solid speculation essay, so you may want to read a
few Tips on
Writing Speculation Papers http://www.powayschools.com/projects/elnino/tips.htm.
You may also want to view a possible grading
rubric before beginning http://www.powayschools.com/projects/elnino/rubric.htm.
Step 7: Share
step is to share your speculation with the world. Access the Climate Prediction Center
Feedback Form, and cut and paste your paper into the form. Maybe
you'll hear back.
Good Luck! Remember, luck only
occurs where opportunity and preparation meet. Read, write, gather data
and create your model with care. This winter you may actually live out
What You Are Required to Turn In:
Step #1 Summary (individual work 5 points)
Step #2 Background questions (group 5 points)
Step #3 TAO Story Summary (individual 5 points)
Step #4 Data Collection and Analysis (group)
Data table (5 points)
graph (5 points)
graph (5 points)
Speculation Paper (steps #5 & 6) (group 15
Step #7 Extra Credit
(individual work 5 points)
Step #8 Extension (individual work 5 points)
compare and contrast data from two other bouys to see
if your results are consistent with your original finding.