From Isotopes to Temperature: Working With A Temperature Equation

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.

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Dorien McGee
University of South Florida
Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education
Activity takes about two lab periods or can be done as a homework assignment. Computer with Excel software is required.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Instructor version is available by request to the author (a link is provided).

PowerPoint and associated files are available for download from the activity sheet.

Even though these PowerPoint slides are very dense, they are given as a .ppt file and could be broken up and modified easily.