In this activity, students reconstruct past climates using lake varves as a proxy to interpret long-term climate patterns. Students use data from sediment cores to understand annual sediment deposition and how it relates to weather and climate patterns.

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 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.

In this activity, students download historic temperature datasets and then graph and compare with different locations. As an extension, students can download and examine data sets for other sites to compare the variability of changes at different distinct locations, and it is at this stage where learning can be individualized and very meaningful.

For this lesson, the guiding Concept Question is: What is climate change and how does climate relate to greenhouse gas concentrations over time? This activity is the second lesson in a nine-lesson module 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change' produced by the International Year of Chemistry project (2011).