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 activity, students use a spreadsheet to calculate the net carbon sequestration in a set of trees; they will utilize an allometric approach based upon parameters measured on the individual trees. They determine the species of trees in the set, measure trunk diameter at a particular height, and use the spreadsheet to calculate carbon content of the tree using forestry research data.