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 activity uses two interactive simulations to illustrate climate change, 1) at the micro/molecular level - modeling the impact of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on surface temperature and 2) at the macro level - modeling changes in glacier thickness and flow as a result of rising surface temperature.

Climate has varied in the past, but today's climate change rate is much more drastic due to human activity. Students explore past climate cycle graphs and compare the cycles with the current rate of change.