Cutting Edge > Climate Change > Ideas for Teaching about Ice Cores > Bring it Home

This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

Bring it home: Evidence of abrupt climate change

This activity was developed during the Teaching Climate Change Using Ice Core Data workshop, held in June 2008.
Contributors: Laurel Godell, Jeff Niemitz, Dallas Rhodes, Cathy Whitlock, Kathy Ellis

Topic: Abrupt climate change evidence from pollen and ice cores

Course level: Introductory

Description of activity:

  1. Learning the data proxy - learn basics of pollen (Atlas of Relations Between Climatic Parameters and Distributions of Important Trees and Shrubs in North America, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1650 A&B)
  2. Data base searching (NOAA Paleoclimatology home page (more info) and data access (more info) )

    • Search for pollen sites that have the right time scale and good (responsive) records
    • Download and plot data for top-15 types pollen.
    • Print screen to have hard copy of graphs.
  3. Download temperature data from Greenland cores and maybe Southern Hemisphere core
    • Plot data (temperature against time) relative temperature
  4. Data analysis
    • Compare timing of major temperature change with pollen record
    • Look at abrupt changes in plant community
    • Describe timing and magnitude of changes.
  5. Data interpretation and synthesis
    • How fast does vegetation adjust to climate? 100 km per century

Learning goals and outcomes


Students will discuss results from variety of geographic locations Be able to describe in writing the larger implications of what they have learned.

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