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In this lesson, students collect sea surface temperature (SST) data from the MY NASA DATA Live Access Server (LAS), create time-series line plots, and use the plots to study a major coral bleaching event. Corals feed on algae that thrive in the sunlit water surrounding a reef. However, when water temperatures get too warm, the algae food source dies and corals turn a whitish color. Through scientific observation, it has been determined that coral bleaching may occur when SST exceeds 30C or 86F for a week or longer. During late 2005, a major coral bleaching event, selected for study in this lesson, occurred as a result of these conditions in the Caribbean Sea. The lesson provides detailed procedures, related links and sample graphs, follow-up questions and extensions, and teacher notes. This lesson is from the MY NASA DATA project, which has created microsets from large scientific data sets, and wrapped them with tools, lesson plans, and supporting documentation so that a teacher, or anyone in the interested public, can use authentic NASA Earth system science data.
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