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 video segment describes climate data collection from Greenland ice cores that indicate Earth's climate can change abruptly over a single decade rather than over thousands of years. The narrator describes how Earth has undergone dramatic climate shifts in relatively short spans of time prior to 8000 years ago. The video and accompanying essay provide explanations of the differences between weather and climate and how the climate itself had been unstable in the past, with wide variations in temperature occurring over decadal timescales.

This video features research conducted at University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, which studies isotopes of hydrogen trapped in ice cores to understand climate changes in the past.

This visualization provides an informative summary of the quarterly seasonal global weather and climate using the 3-D Science on a Sphere format. These video summaries use animations of recent NOAA data and an engaging commentary to review the climate highlights of the past 4 seasons. Topics include, El Nino/La Nina, temperature trends, extreme weather, and emerging climate research.

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.

This key figure is on page 11 of the PDF found at the link above (it is listed as page 3 in the document). The link is to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report. This image shows changes in global average surface temperature, global average sea level, and Northern Hemisphere snow cover from as far back as 1850.

In this activity students work with data to analyze local and global temperature anomaly data to look for warming trends. The activity focuses on the Great Lakes area.

This unit allows students to investigate past changes in Earth's climate. Students first explore relationships in climate data such as temperature, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, and biodiversity. They then investigate solar radiation in more depth to learn about changes over time such as seasonal shifts. Students then learn about mechanisms for exploring past changes in Earth's climate such as ice cores, tree rings, fossil records, etc. Finally, students tie all these together by considering the feedbacks throughout the Earth system and reviewing an article on a past mass extinction event.

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 teaching activity is an introduction to how ice cores from the cryosphere are used as indicators and record-keepers of climate change as well as how climate change will affect the cryosphere.

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