This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter is a detailed computer-based exploration in which students learn how various climatic conditions impact the formations of sediment layers on the ocean floor. They analyze sediment core data from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica for evidence of climate changes over time. In addition, they interact with various tools and animations throughout the activity, in particular the Paleontological Stratigraphic Interval Construction and Analysis Tool (PSICAT) that is used to construct a climate change model of a sediment core from core images.
In this learning activity, students use a web-based geologic timeline to examine temperature, CO2 concentration, and ice cover data to investigate how climate has changed during the last 715 million years.
This activity engages learners to make a model of sediment cores using different kinds of glass beads and sand. They learn how to examine the types, numbers, and conditions of diatom skeletons in the model sediment cores and tell something about the hypothetical paleoclimate that existed when they were deposited. The students get to be climate detectives.
In this activity, students reconstruct past climates using lake varves as a proxy to interpret long-term climate patterns and to understand annual sediment deposition and how it relates to weather and climate patterns.
This video shows where and how ice cores are extracted from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), cut, packaged, flown to the ice core storage facility in Denver, further sliced into samples, and shipped to labs all over the world where scientists use them to study indicators of climate change from the past.
In this activity, students will use oxygen isotope values of two species of modern coral to reconstruct ambient water temperature over a four-year period. They use Microsoft Excel, or similar application, to create a spreadsheet of temperature values calculated from the isotope values of the corals by means of an algebraic equation. Students then use correlation and regression techniques to determine whether isotope records can be considered to be good proxies for records of past temperatures.
This animation starts with a schematic illustration of glacier growth and then introduces six different methods that researchers use when studying ice cores in order to deduce the climate of the past. The research methods that are briefly introduced are ice layering, pollen, oxygen isotopes, ice crystals and gases trapped inside, and other chemistry.
This activity with a lab report instructs students to solve and plot 160,000 years' worth of ice core data from the Vostok ice core using Excel or similar spreadsheets to analyze data. Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions and the past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.
This activity focuses on reconstructing the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) as an example of a relatively abrupt global warming period. Students access Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sediment core data with Virtual Ocean software in order to display relevant marine sediments and their biostratigraphy.