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Pedagogic content

  • Use of satellite images
  • Sea water conditions
  • Phytoplankton
  • Processes and life in the marine environment.


Computer skills, knowledge about a biotic factors in marine Ecosystems.

New competencies targeted


  • Improve their spatial, map-reading, and observation skills
  • Practice using evidence as the basis of explanations
  • Learn some important concepts related to oceans
  • Introduce them to the ways where the satellites can help them to study enormous areas of ocean
  • Integrate information from different areas and over long time periods

By studying the satellite images, students can learn about the large scale of ocean processes, and better understand the channels to connect humans with the oceans.



Educator makes an introduction about the usefulness of satellites, which can be equipped with sensors to observe wide area  of the ocean, and over several days can even observe the entire surface of earth.
He/she also introduces the notions of sea surface temperature and the chlorophyll a as two very useful parameters measured in the ocean based on information of the following link:


Students will be divide in pairs or groups of 4 and will be given a satellite image of sea surface temperature or chorophyll a , to each group (images could be downloading by the links below:


The educator asks the students to observe for 20 minutes the images and keep track of their observations and questions.
To limit the time necessary and provide opportunities for comparisons, educator could have some students look at only temperature or only chlorophyll images, or compare the temperature and chlorophyll from only one region.
Educator will explain and describe what is being measured.
He /she explains the color coding used in the image, and tells what each color represents.


Students have to identify the geographic area, ocean, and land area in the image.


Students have to describe patterns in sea surface temperature (SST) or chlorophyll based on satellite images.


Students have to propose and communicate an explanation for the observed patterns.


Students have to describe and to explain how the following factors might relate to SST or chlorophyll observations: wind and wave conditions; seasonal patterns for air temperature; regional currents; bathymetry; stratification; and upwelling events.


Students have to identify phytoplankton bloom events on a satellite image.


Students have to make an assignment: based on their study of the images, they will develop a story to explain what is happening in this part of the sea.
The story should use evidence and any background information they have learned, and should describe what factors may have influenced the water to cause the changes they observed.
The story may be written, drawn and illustrated as a poster or comic strip, or presented as a power point show.


Students will present their assignment and discuss with the rest of the class about it.


The best assignment will be presented in the annual exhibition for the celebration of the Sea.

Additional Info

Type of Activity: Experimental activities, Information research, Project, Publication
Target Audience: From 13 years old
Place: Classroom, ICT laboratory
Material need: Copies of the sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a satellite images for the Mediterranean Sea, (examples could be used referred to different areas such as Adriatic Sea , Aegean Sea for the Greek students, or Gulf of Lion for French students etc.). Bathymetry and circulation maps of Mediterranean sea for reference, Mobiles, computers, tablets.
Duration of Activity: PREPARATION:

45 min


2-3 hours

Authorship and ressources conditions to use: HCMR (Education Unit)No authorization required
Note by Author:

The oceans are vast, and for most of history, ocean research was based on data from a series of individual sampling stations but nowadays ocean observing satellites allow oceanographers / scientists to study a wide variety of factors at regional or global scales.

Many types of satellite data are rendered into color-coded images that are intrinsically interesting and intuitively readable.

Two very useful parameters that can be studied via satellite images are sea surface temperature (SST) and surface chlorophyll-a (chl) levels.SST allows us to follow the movements and interactions of surface water masses, infer upwelling, and observe the effects of insolation, wind, and storm events.

Chlorophyll images show us the levels of phytoplankton in the upper meter of the ocean, including high concentrations during bloom events.

Although it is not possible at present to identify genera or species of phytoplankton from satellite images, chl images can be used to locate and track blooms, and are enormously helpful in guiding scientists in choosing sampling sites for harmful algae blooms.

Topic of this Experiences: Sea Water Quality
Additional resources: Pdf Version