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El Nino
Great Lakes
Teacher Info
Ocean Temps


Air temperature and water temperature (WTMP) vary from season to season and with latitude.  (Water temperature is sometimes called sea surface temperature, or SST.) A location at 60° N latitude (Alaska) is much colder than one at 17° latitude (Hawaii). The lower the latitude, the higher the temperature. N Around the equator (latitude = 0) is the warmest latitude.

Temperatures in areas that are near the water tend to be warmer than areas far away from water. The sea water helps to keep the land temperatures nearby warmer.

During the year, air and water temperature warm and cool gradually. They are hottest in the summer and the coldest in the winter. This is, of course, for the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere it is cold in June and warm in December.

What's in this section?

checkmarkGet Info

  • Explain what causes seasons.
  • List data collected by marine buoys.
  • Describe how data is transmitted worldwide.
  • Explain the difference between near-shore and offshore air and water temperatures.

checkmarkGather Data

  • Collect information about marine buoy sites.
  • Record latitude and longitude of sites.
  • List times of most recent observations.
  • Read tables of current data and record information.
  • Interpret graphs of air and water temperatures.
  • Calculate the differences in temperatures of locations at different latitudes.
  • Collect data over the period of one week at a site closest to school and create a graph of the data.


  • Predict air temperature changes based on past and current data.
  • Predict the water temperature changes based on past and current data.
  • Correlate air and water temperatureto the effects of El Niño nationwide and locally.


  • Click on the link above to participate in some additional activities.


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