SeaWiFS The Meaning of Ocean Color The Role of Phytoplankton The Carbon Absorbing Oceans
  • What are phytoplankton?
  • Why are phytoplankton important?
  • How could a fisherman use phytoplankton data?
  • Ocean Productivity Activity
  • Blank Map
    Print the blank map outline for the activity on this page.

    Ocean Productivity Activity

    Ocean color sensors measure the amount of plant biomass by measuring the color due to the presence of chlorophyll. The concentration of phytoplankton chlorophyll and other pigments is related to phytoplankton growth rate, also called productivity. This is how ocean color gives us an indirect measure of ocean productivity. In this activity, you can use images and data available on the internet to draw some conclusions about where and why productivity is high or low.

    1.Print out a blank map and outline the ocean regions with higher productivity.

    2. Color the areas of high productivity red on your map using a colored pencil, pen or crayon. (To check yourself, visit the picture.)

    3. Color the less productive areas on your map in blue.

    4. Compare/contrast productivity near the coastal areas with that in the mid-ocean regions.

    5. Compare the productivity of ocean water near the equator with that in the northern and southern latitudes in these areas:

    • the mid-Atlantic
    • the mid-Pacific
    • eastern coastline of North and South America
    • western coastline of North and South America
    • western coastline of Asia

    Now you should be ready to answer the Discussion Questions.


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    Updated: January 27, 2003