Activity 8: The oceans as a climate buffer

Dr. Cecilia Scorza and Moritz Strähle
Status: Mar 2023

Without our oceans, comparable greenhouse gas concentrations would lead to much higher temperatures on Earth - fortunately, however, a large part of the additional energy entered into the climate system ends up in the oceans.

The heat storage capacity (and thermal conductivity) of water can be impressively experienced with the simple experiment of activity.


More materials like h5p-study units, videos and animations with  Module - Consequences of climate change.

    Video: The oceans as a climate buffer

    Technical questions and didactic comments

    The fact that the water-filled balloon does not burst is mainly due to the relatively high thermal conductivity of water. In contrast to the air-filled case, the heat of the candle flame can be dissipated quickly enough by the rubber skin into the water so that it does not reach its melting point.
    Nevertheless, the impressive and simple experiment can be usefully employed as an introduction to the topic of the buffer effect of the oceans, since the balloon does not heat up noticeably even after a long time above the candle flame.

    Do you have a technical question about the experiment? Get in touch with us! We will gladly try to answer your question or forward it to an expert in our network. Answers to central or frequently asked questions will be published here.

    • If you hold the water-filled balloon directly into the candle flame, soot collects impressively on the surface
    • Hazard assassment

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