Explore patterns in sea surface temperature, salinity, and density in these images adapted from NASA. Ocean water properties are influenced by many factors, such as heating from the Sun, Earth’s rotation, currents, winds, rainfall, rivers, and sea ice. The first image shows the long-term average of sea surface temperature, with red representing warmer temperatures and blue representing colder temperatures. The second image shows the long-term average of sea surface salinity, with white representing higher salinity and dark regions representing lower salinity. The third image shows the long-term average of sea surface density, with light blue representing lower density and dark blue representing higher density.
To view the Background Essay and Teaching Tips for this media gallery, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.