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Predicting The Greening of Spring
Oceans and Climate

Studying the Journey North tulip garden locations each year helps us to make better predictions about spring’s arrival. Often we start out thinking that the Earth will warm from the Equator upward as the calendar approaches the summer months. As we learn more about the affects that oceans and landmasses have on climate we begin to see spring’s arrival with new eyes.

A Unique Situation

2 Gardens near 60° Latitude

In the Fall of 2003 we welcomed 2 gardens planted near 60 N latitude. Although planted at about the same latitude, these 2 gardens were on separate continents. Use your atlas to find both locations. Study their position on the landmass, nearby bodies of water, and the surrounding topography. This map shows the locations of the gardens at the Haines High School in Haines, Alaska (59,-135) and the Mikela School in Espoo, Finland (60, 21).

Ocean Currents and The Greening of Spring
Which garden will be the first to emerge in the spring?
What kinds of information will help you make an accurate prediction?
Both of these planting sites are on or very near bodies of water. Haines, Alaska is just interior from the Gulf of Alaska and Espoo, Finland is on an inlet of the Baltic Sea. The nearby ocean currents will probably affect the climate, and spring's arrival in both places.

We know that warm currents bring higher temperatures in winter and cold currents bring lower temperatures in summer. In the Atlantic the Gulf Stream transports massive amounts of water, but it also moves tremendous amounts of heat from the tropics into the temperate latitudes. It is responsible for the formation of tropical coral reefs as far north as Bermuda and for keeping western Europe mild and ice-free. There are major currents in the Pacific bring their warm waters up along the North American coast. All these major currents have many branch and feeder currents that help to constantly circulate ocean water of differing temperatures.

Study the map above. Does it help you see how warmer waters move and circulate in our large oceans and seas? Can you use this information to predict which of the 60 N gardens will bloom first?

Journaling Questions 
  1. Study the maps and your atlas to come up with YOUR prediction. Which garden will emerge first? List the factors that you found to make your prediction.
  2. Do you think that ocean currents affect these planting sites? Explain your answer.

Stay tuned to see whether your predictions are correct!

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