Dr. Josh Kohut – Climate Change, Ocean Currents, & Impacts (3/20/13)

Dr. Josh Kohut presented his current research at the March 20, 2014 STEM Educators’ Series. Dr. Kohut discussed his work on the interactions between the physical and biological worlds in the ocean, how climate change is influencing these interactions, and how using ocean observing data informs us about marine ecology. During the lecture, we shared activities related to biophysical interactions as well as discuss how to bring these topics into your classrooms/clubs.

Below we have included a summary of Dr. Kohut, Background Materials, the Lecture, and adapted activities to teach on the topics of biophysical interactions, marine ecology, and climate change science as we get closer to the event.

Enjoy! The East Coast MARE Team

Kohut_cl_20100812104648Dr. Josh Kohut –

Dr. Josh Kohut is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Phsycis and Mathematics from the College of Charleston and completed his Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography at  Rutgers University. His broad research interests are in bio-physical interactions in the world’s oceans, circulation processes on continental shelves, and the impact of these processes on marine resource management. I utilize ocean observing technologies including satellites, high-frequency radar, and underwater gliding robots as part of a research program that applies ocean observations to coastal research and decision making.

Background Materials-

We have compiled the following materials as optional background information if you wish to read about the topics that will be covered during the event and included in the adapted lesson plans below (coming in March).

Glossary of terms relevant to Dr. Josh Kohut’s research and science presentation.

The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program down near Palmer Research Station in Antarctica is a great resource for Antarctic data, information, and publications. (Palmer LTER)

Science papers related to topics:

Ocean Currents:

  • Ocean surface currents and climate change- video A short video from PBS explaining how surface currents affect climate change across the globe.
  • Ocean circulation, salinity, and climate change Information on NASA’s Aquarius research on ocean salinity.  NASA explains how ocean salinity and ocean circulation affect climate change.
  • Ocean Currents NOAA’s educational homepage for ocean currents with links to all topics about ocean currents from the local to global scale and how it is affecting climate change.
  • Temperature change in the deep ocean An article about research done by Dr. Steve Rintoul of Southern Ocean science. The topic discussed is climate change and how it is increasing deep ocean temperatures in Antarctica.
  • Southern Ocean  An issue of the Australian Antarctic Magazine. Covering many topics dealing with the Southern Ocean including the important Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which drives all ocean circulation.
  • Dr. Sharon Gilman at the Coastal Carolina University has a good description of waves.
  • The Open University prepared a textbook titled Waves, Tides, and Shallow-Water Processes, sections of the Waves chapter maybe helpful.

Adelie Penguins:

Climate Change:

  • Carbon footprint calculators A page with links to different carbon footprint calculators according to the student’s age.
  • The National Research Council developed a 7-part video series explaining climate change science in July 2012.
  • The Global Climate Change group at NASA developed a summary of the Effects and Causes of Global Climate Change.
  • Global Climate Change group National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also have a great website of interactive graphs and maps to demonstrate the Key Indicators that climate scientists use to look at changes in the Earth’s climate over time.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of commonly asked climate change questions with accompanying answers, which may include some that your students have asked you previously.
  • The EPA published a “Climate Change Indicators in the United States” report in 2010 that reviews 24 indicators, each describing trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. It focuses primarily on the United States, but in some cases global trends are presented to provide context or a basis for comparison.
  • In 2008, scientists and educators from the NOAA, American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), NASA, and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)/University of Colorado- Boulder developed a a guide to define climate literacy in the United States. To read about the 7 Essential Principles and how they align with National Science Standards categories download the Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences guide.
  • Climate Communication: Science & Outreach is a non-profit science and outreach project dedicated to furthering the scientific understanding of Earth systems and global environmental change. The content on the site includes good descriptions and graphics separated into three categories: What’s Happening to Our Climate, How it Will Affect Us, and What We Can Do.
  • Climate Central created the website Surging Seas: Sea Level Rise Analysis to show threats from sea level rise and storm surge to all 3000+ coastal towns, cities, counties and states in the Lower 48.

Evening Presentation and Discussions-

If you are interested in watching the broadcast of the event, click here: https://www.ustream.tv/recorded/45105967.

If you are interested in downloading the presentation slides, click here: Dr. Kohut’s Presentation


We developed a packet of notes pages, data slides, and materials for participants in the program. Download Packet

Activity 1 (Models Discussion): If we were going to develop a model to investigate biological and physical connections in the ocean, what variables would we need to include?

SEP 2: Developing and Using Models:

– In science, models are used to represent a system (or parts of a system) under study, to aid in the development of questions and explanations, to generate data that can be used to make predictions, and to communicate ideas to others. Models are based upon evidence and when new evidence is uncovered that the models can’t explain, models are modified.

Activity 2 (Developing Explanations from online unit): Use evidence to construct an explanation that predicts and/or describes why fish migrate, which also includes the quantitative relationships between included variables.

We will begin the activity here (https://new.coolclassroom.org/adventures/explore/fish/19) on page 19 and continue through to page 22. You can follow along in the broadcast or do it yourself on your computer.

SEP 6: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions:

– The goal of science is to construct explanations for the causes of phenomena…An explanation includes a claim that relates how a variable or variables relate to another variable or a set of variables.

Activity 3 (Asking Questions from the Data): Using the data, is there a relationship between the variables? Develop a question to investigate the data further.

Temperature (degrees C): Fall 1993, Spring 1993, Fall 2002, Spring 2002

NOAA Fisheries Trawl Data (Catch Per Unit Effort): Fall 1993Spring 1993, Fall 2002, Spring 2002

Temperature and Trawl Data: Fall 1993 .png, Spring 1993 .png, Fall 2002 .png, Spring 2002 .png; Fall 1993 .avi, Spring 1993 .avi, Fall 2002 .avi, Spring 2002 .avi

SEP 1: Asking Questions and Defining Problems:

– Scientific questions are distinguished from other types of questions in that the answers lie in explanations supported by empirical evidence, including evidence gathered by others or through investigation. Asking questions also involves asking questions about data, claims that are made, and proposed designs.

Activity 4 (Data Interpretation): Use the maps to identify temporal and spatial relationships in phytoplankton along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

Montes-Hugo et al. 2009 Data: Remote Sensing

Vemet et al. 2008: Ship Observations

SEP 4: Analyzing and Interpreting Data:

– Students are expected to interpret data by identifying significant features and patterns, use mathematics to represent relationships between variables, and take into account sources of error. It is important students present data as evidence to support their conclusions.

Activity 5 (Simulation & Analysis): Collect data through the simulation to serve as the basis for evidence to answer the question: what effects where predators forage?

This activity is from the draft lesson “Penguin Foraging: Where and Why?” that is part of the Project CONVERGE. To receive a copy of the lesson contact Kristin.

SEP 3: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations:

– Scientific investigations may be undertaken to describe a phenomenon, or to test a theory or model for how the world works.

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