Science - 2017-18

ES.10 - Oceans

The student will investigate and understand that oceans are complex, interactive physical, chemical, and biological systems and are subject to long- and short-term variations. Key concepts include
a) physical and chemical changes related to tides, waves, currents, sea level and ice cap variations, upwelling, and salinity variations;
b) importance of environmental and geologic implications;
c) systems interactions;
d) features of the seafloor as reflections of tectonic processes; and
e) economic and public policy issues concerning the oceans and the coastal zone including the Chesapeake Bay.

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • The surface of Earth has identifiable major features-- land masses, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, and glaciers.
  • Earth's surface is built up and worn down by natural processes, such as rock formation, erosion, and weathering.
  • Circulation patterns in the oceans are driven by density differences and by exchange of momentum with the atmosphere.

  • I can explain what may happen as the Earth's climate changes.
  • I can explain why seafood prices go up following a natural disaster.
  • I can describe the differences in the ocean that cause the Gulf states to have different weather than our local weather.
  • I can explain how dropoffs form in the ocean (like that in Finding Nemo).
  • I can explain why seafood prices go up following a natural disaster.


  • The ocean is a dynamic system in which many chemical, biological, and physical changes are taking place. The oceans are an important source of food and mineral resources as well as a venue for recreation and transportation. Sea level falls when glacial ice caps grow and rises when the ice caps melt. 
  • Most waves on the ocean surface are generated by wind. 
  • There are large current systems in the oceans that carry warm water towards the poles and cold water towards the equator. 
  • Upwellings bring cold, nutrient-rich water from the deep ocean to the surface and are areas of rich biological activity.
  • The tides are the periodic rise and fall of water level caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon. 
  • The oceans’ resources are finite and should be utilized with care.
  • Algae in the oceans are an important source of atmospheric oxygen. 
  • The ocean is the single largest reservoir of heat at Earth’s surface. The stored heat in the ocean drives much of Earth’s weather and causes climate near the ocean to be milder than climate in the interior of continents. 
  • Convection is the major mechanism of energy transfer in the oceans, atmosphere, and Earth’s interior.
  • The topography of the seafloor is at least as variable as that on the continents. Features of the seafloor that are related to plate tectonic processes include mid-ocean ridges and trenches (continental margins, trenches, and mid-ocean ridges). Other major topographic features of the oceans are continental shelves, continental slopes, abyssal plains, and seamounts.
  • The oceans are environmentally and economically important. Human activities and public policy have important consequences for the oceans. The impact of human activities, such as waste disposal, construction, and agriculture, affect the water quality within watershed systems and ultimately the ocean. Pollution and overfishing can harm or deplete valuable resources. 
  • Estuaries, like the Chesapeake Bay, are areas where fresh and salt water mix, producing variations in salinity and high biological activity. Chemical pollution and sedimentation are great threats to the well-being of estuaries and oceans. 


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

a)  analyze the role of ocean currents in the distribution of heat from the equatorial regions to the poles, and predict what changes may occur as continents move and atmospheric conditions and climate vary.

b)  identify the effects of human activities on the oceans.

     analyze the potential impact of a major environmental disaster on the base of the food web and vertebrate organisms, economics, cultures, and future productivity.

c)  analyze the relationship between moving continents, the presence of ice caps, and ocean circulation over long periods of time.

     relate important ocean conditions, including El Niño, to weather on the continents. 

     evaluate the role of the marine environment in the extraction of carbon dioxide in carbonates and the production of oxygen. 

     compare Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico water temperatures during the yearly cycle, and relate this to the formation of storms.

e)  describe how different types of pollution can pollute the Chesapeake Bay even though the pollutant source may be hundreds of miles from the Bay.


salinity, wave, crest, trough, wavelength, waveheight, currents, cold water currents, warm water currents, tides, high tide, low tide spring tide, neap tide, continental shelf, continental slope, abyssal plain, mid-ocean ridge, seamount, guyot, trench, estuary

Updated: Nov 28, 2017