b. Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.

This lesson is an investigation of the impact of climate change on the phenology of a variety of taxa, including migrating birds and hibernating animals in the Colorado Rockies. Students analyze 40 years of data collected by Billy Barr from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

This video is part of the Climate Science in a Nutshell series. This short, animated video looks at evidence of a rapidly warming planet. It discusses how air bubbles in ice cores can be used to estimate Earth's average air temperature for thousands of years and how direct measurements document air temperatures from 1880.

This is a multi-faceted activity that offers students a variety of opportunities to learn about permafrost through an important sink and source of greenhouse gas (methane), about which most students living in lower latitudes know little.

This video highlights a team of scientists who work on reconstructing the mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, the end of the Permian Period, and wiped out the majority of life on our planet, resetting the evolution of life. Clues suggest that deadly bacteria might have set off a chemical chain reaction that poisoned the Permian seas and atmosphere.

In this video from the Polaris Project Website, American and Siberian university students participating in the project describe their research on permafrost.

In this video, students see how data from the ice core record is used to help scientists predict the future of our climate. Video features ice cores extracted from the WAIS Divide, a research station on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

In this activity, students study the relationship between changing climate conditions and the distribution of plants across North America, using a unique tool called the Pollen Viewer. This tool allows the user to animate the retreat of the North American glacier and the migration of plant species during the waning period of the most recent Ice Age.

In this video segment, two students discuss the greenhouse effect and visit with research scientists at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, who research the effects of global climate change on organisms in a controlled facility. Their current research (as of 2002) focuses on the response to increased quantities of CO2 in a number of different model ecosystems.

This interactive displays how climate variables are changing over time (temperature, CO2, Arctic sea ice, solar flux, etc.) in graphical form. Students can examine data over the last 20 years or archived data.

This video profiles glaciologist Lonnie Thompson and his research into tropical mountain glaciers as a way to understand climate history. Beginning in the 1970s, Thompson recognized that tropical ice cores contain information relating to tropical climate phenomena, including El NiÃo events and monsoons. These phenomena are not archived in ice from polar regions. Thompson explains that his archive of ice cores is full of clues that, taken together with records collected from around the world, can help scientists create a timeline that tells Earth's climate story.

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