In this activity, students explore past examples of climate variability in three locations: the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, Central America, and coastal Greenland, and consider differences between climate variability and climate change.
In this activity, students learn about the tools and methods paleoclimatologists use to reconstruct past climates. In constructing sediment cores themselves, students will achieve a very good understanding of the sedimentological interpretation of past climates that scientists can draw from cores.
In this audio slideshow, an ecologist from the University of Florida describes the radiocarbon dating technique that scientists use to determine the amount of carbon within the permafrost of the Arctic tundra. Understanding the rate of carbon released as permafrost thaws is necessary to understand how this positive feedback mechanism is contributing to climate change that may further increase global surface temperatures.
This video shows where and how ice cores are extracted from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The cores are 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 use Google Earth and team up with fictional students in Chersky, Russia to investigate possible causes of thawing permafrost in Siberia and other Arctic regions. Students explore the nature of permafrost and what the effects of thawing permafrost mean both locally and globally. Next, students use a spreadsheet to explore soil temperature data from permafrost boreholes and surface air temperature datasets from in and around the Chersky region for a 50-year time span.
In this activity, students examine pictures of pollen grains representing several species that show the structural differences that scientists use for identification. Students analyze model soil samples with material mixed in to represent pollen grains. They then determine the type and amount of 'pollen' in the samples and, using information provided to them, determine the type of vegetation and age of their samples. Finally, they make some conclusions about the likely climate at the time the pollen was shed.
This video describes the role that dendrochronology plays in understanding climate change, especially changes to high elevation environments at an upper tree line. Dendrochronologists from the Big Sky Institute sample living and dead trees, describe how correlations between trees are made, and explain how tree cores record climate changes.