Coral Reefs and Global Warming
This activity allows students to use authentic scientific data to make claims about the threat of coral bleaching for reefs around the world.
Students download temperature and satellite data files for coral reef sites around the world. They then graph and analyze the data for one coral reef location. Students report and summarize the data from the whole class on a set of world maps. After observing global trends in the data, students evaluate the threat of heat stress for various coral reefs.
It would be helpful for students to have basic computer skills and be familiar with the use of a spreadsheet program. Students should also be familiar with the use of scientific modeling to make predictions.
The “Educator Materials” provide a detailed overview of the activity. The ZIP file contains all the documents needed to complete the full activity: student worksheet, maps, and graphs. If students don’t have access to computers or are unfamiliar with spreadsheet programs, the activity can still be completed using the prepared graphs.
Student Learning Targets
- Make evidence-based claims about the threat of rising ocean temperatures to coral reefs.
- Identify global patterns by comparing data from three world maps.
- Graph data using spreadsheet software and estimate the area under a curve.
algae, biodiversity, degree heating week (DHW), marine biology, maximum monthly mean (MMM), oceanography, polyp, sea surface temperature (SST), symbiosis
HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-6; SEP2, SEP4
2.C.2, 2.D.1, 4.B.4; SP1, SP5, SP7
ELA.RST.9–12.3, ELA.RST.9–12.7, ELA.RST.9–12.9
Math.N-Q.1, Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-ID.6; MP2, MP4, MP5
CC5; DP2, DP3, DP4