This series of activities is designed to introduce students to the role of sediments and sedimentary rocks in the global carbon cycle. Students learn how stable carbon isotopes can be used to reconstruct ancient sedimentary environments. Students will make some simple calculations, formulate hypotheses, and think about the implications of their results. The activity includes an optional demonstration of the density separation of a sediment sample into a light, organic fraction and a heavier, mineral fraction.

This short video, adapted from NOVA, explains how Earth's position relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic shift in the climate of what is now the Saharan nation of Djibouti.

This NASA animation shows the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide over different time scales. Viewers can compare the last 400,000 years, last 1000 years, and last 25 years. The data come from the Lake Vostok ice cores (400,000 BC to about 4000 BC), Law Dome ice cores (1010 AD to 1975 AD) and Mauna Loa observations (1980 to 2005).

This video describes why tropical ice cores are important and provide different information than polar ice cores, why getting them now is important (they are disappearing), and how scientists get them. The work of glaciologist Lonnie Thompson is featured, with a focus on his work collecting cores of ice from high mountain glaciers that contain significant data about past climate change.

This video profiles glaciologist Lonnie Thompson and his research into tropical mountain glaciers as a way to understand climate history. Beginning in the 1970s, Thompson recognized that tropical ice cores contain information relating to tropical climate phenomena, including El NiÃo events and monsoons. These phenomena are not archived in ice from polar regions. Thompson explains that his archive of ice cores is full of clues that, taken together with records collected from around the world, can help scientists create a timeline that tells Earth's climate story.

This visualization graphically displays temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as derived from ice core data from 400,000 years ago to 1950. The data originates from UNEP GRID Arendal's graphic library of CO2 levels from Vostok ice core.

This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter is a detailed computer-based exploration in which students learn how various climatic conditions impact the formations of sediment layers on the ocean floor. They analyze sediment core data from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica for evidence of climate changes over time. In addition, they interact with various tools and animations throughout the activity, in particular the Paleontological Stratigraphic Interval Construction and Analysis Tool (PSICAT) that is used to construct a climate change model of a sediment core from core images.

In this video, a PhD Student from the University of Maine explains how ice cores are used to study global climate change.

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 learning activity, students use a web-based geologic timeline to examine temperature, CO2 concentration, and ice cover data to investigate how climate has changed during the last 715 million years.

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