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

Climate History & the Cryosphere


Ice sheets contain a record of hundreds of thousands of years of past climate, trapped in the ancient snow. Scientists recover this climate history by drilling cores in the ice, some of them over 3,500 meters (11,000 feet) deep. These photographs show experimental drilling on the Greenland Ice Cap in summer 2005. Image Credit: Reto Stöckli, NASA GSFC. Image Source NASA Earth Observatory.
Many scientists believe that the key to predicting the future of climate includes 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 land ice and 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 investigation, you should be able to:

Keeping track of What You Learn

In these pages, you'll find two kinds of questions. Your teacher will let you know which questions you should answer and turn in.

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