EarthLabs > Climate and the Cryosphere > Lab 4: Climate History & the Cryosphere

Climate History & the Cryosphere

Introduction

Many scientists believe that the key to predicting the future of climate requires understanding its past. Looking at historic temperature records and atmospheric composition can reveal patterns and natural cycles in Earth's climate that help scientists make predictions about what Earth's climate might be like in the future and how human behaviors such as burning fossil fuels contribute to climate change.


In the first part of this Lab, you will learn about the processes and timescales involved in glaciation. In Part B, you will learn about how scientists use ice cores to study climate history. In Part C, you will use an online interactive to explore how Earth's temperature, glacial ice, coastlines, and sea level have changed over the last 450,000 years.

After completing this Lab, you should be able to:

  • describe the timescales associated with glacial and interglacial periods
  • describe how we know what we know about historical climate and atmospheric conditions and events;
  • explain what ice cores are and how they record atmospheric and climate data; and
  • describe impacts of climate change on land ice and the oceans.


Keeping track of What You Learn

In these pages, you'll find three kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you focused on key concepts. They allow you to check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
  • Discuss questions are intended to get you talking with your neighbor. These questions require you to pull some concepts together or apply your knowledge in a new situation.
Your teacher will let you know which questions you should answer and turn in.