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Ocean and Climate Literacy

Essential principles and fundamental concepts.

The guides Ocean Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts and Climate Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts (found below) present a vision of an ocean and climate-literate society. Many scientists and educators collaborated to produce these resources, building on efforts to define ocean and climate literacy and identify the principles and concepts of ocean and climate science that should be included in K-12 curricula. A practical resource for educators, these guides outline the knowledge required to be considered ocean and climate literate. The Fundamental Principles and Essential concepts in these guides do not always fall neatly within particular disciplines. As a result, many fundamental concepts illustrate more than one essential principle. This demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of ocean and climate sciences.

With the support of NOAA, the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) has developed an extensive ocean literacy framework made up of the Ocean Literacy Guide, the Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence for Grades K–12, and the Alignment of Ocean Literacy to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This framework presents a vision of an ocean-literate society and outlines the knowledge required to be considered ocean literate. We recommend you see the NMEA Ocean Literacy page for additional resources and information about these efforts. Download a copy of the guides below.

Defining Ocean and Climate Literacy

Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean's influence on you — and your influence on the ocean. An ocean-literate person understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts about the functioning of the ocean; can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way; and is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.

You are climate literate if you understand the influence of climate on yourself and society and your influence on climate. A climate-literate person: Understands the essential principles of all aspects of the Earth system governing climate patterns that are presented in this document; knows how to gather information about climate and weather, and how to distinguish credible from non-credible scientific sources on the subject; communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way; communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way.

Last updated:
06/16/21

Author: NOAA

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