The Ocean and our Weather

Science Concepts—The Ocean and our Weather

Summary: The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate. The ocean absorbs heat from solar radiation, and loses heat by evaporation. When water from the ocean enters the atmosphere as water vapor, it condenses and forms rain. In fact, most of the rain that falls on land originally evaporated from the tropical ocean. In this topic guide, students explore relationships between the ocean and weather on land though investigations of the water cycle.

Concepts to teach:


  1. Water moves through a cycle that includes the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere
  2. The ocean plays an important role in shaping climate and weather

Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations

  • 5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Standards: Ocean Literacy Principle 3

  • The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate

Specific Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  1. Build a model to show how water moves through the Earth’s systems
  2. Describe how the ocean influences weather on land

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Lesson: The Water Cycle—In this lesson from NASA GPM (Global Precipitation Measurement) students participate in a webquest to learn about the water cycle, and then build a model of the water cycle to observe how water moves through Earth’s four systems.
  • Images that describe the water cycle
    • Water Cycle Poster from NOAA Education Resource—Consider using to review parts of the water cycle with students, noting that much of the water that will end up as rain is evaporated from the ocean. The accompanying article points out that images can oversimplify understanding of complex factors involved in the water cycle.
    • Water Cycle Animation from NASA GPM—Visualize how water that evaporates into clouds from the ocean moves toward land and falls as precipitation.
  • Use the water cycle to connect the ocean and watershed. Review the Watershed Walk from OCEP Module One
  • Activity: The Incredible Journey through the Water Cycle—In this Project WET game adapted by the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, students learn about the physical processes of the water cycle by taking on the role of a drop of water moving through the system.


  • The NASA GPM webquest includes a Student Capture worksheet.
    How does water that evaporates from the ocean make its way to land?