This series of activities is designed to introduce students to the role of sediments and sedimentary rocks in the global carbon cycle. Students learn how stable carbon isotopes can be used to reconstruct ancient sedimentary environments. Students will make some simple calculations, formulate hypotheses, and think about the implications of their results. The activity includes an optional demonstration of the density separation of a sediment sample into a light, organic fraction and a heavier, mineral fraction.

This visualization shows in five steps how ice cores provide a measure of the temperature in the past.

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 NBC Learn video features climate scientists doing their research on Mt. Kilimanjaro to study the climate of the past. The scientists put the recently observed changes on the glacier into perspective by comparing past climate fluctuations, stressing that the current observed rate of change is unprecedented.
Note: you will need to scroll down the Changing Planet video page to get to this video.

This interactive visualization describes how climatologists obtain and interpret evidence from the Greenland Ice Sheet in an effort to piece together a picture of Earth's distant climate history. Resource describes how glaciers form and how they can be used to collect ancient atmospheric data. The issues analyzed in the data collection are particularly good in showing how science is done in the field.

In this activity, students graph and analyze methane data, extracted from an ice core, to examine how atmospheric methane has changed over the past 109,000 years in a case study format. Calculating the rate of change of modern methane concentrations, they compare the radiative forcing of methane and carbon dioxide and make predictions about the future, based on what they have learned from the data and man's role in that future.

This narrated slide show gives a brief overview of coral biology and how coral reefs are in danger from pollution, ocean temperature change, ocean acidification, and climate change. In addition, scientists discuss how taking cores from corals yields information on past changes in ocean temperature.

In this activity, students are guided through graphs of surface air temperature anomaly data and Vostok ice core data to illustrate how scientists use these data to develop the basis for modeling how climate is likely to change in the future.

This short video, adapted from NOVA, explains how Earth's position relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic shift in the climate of what is now the Saharan nation of Djibouti.

This static graph of changes in CO2 concentrations goes back 400,000 years, showing the dramatic spike in recent years.

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