Vostok Ice Core: Excel (Mac or PC)
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
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This page first made public: Sep 7, 2006
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Students use Excel to graph and analyze Vostok Ice core data (more info) (160,000 years of Ice core data from Vostok Station). Data includes ice age, ice depth, carbon dioxide, methane, dust, and deuterium isotope relative abundance (dD). Students use the equation:
Temperature (deg-C)=-55.5+(dD + 440)/6 to infer temperatures from dD.
This is a complete activity that requires a working knowledge of Excel (see teaching notes and tips).
- Learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions.
- Learn about past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.
- Learn about the climate and ice age cycle for past 160,000 years.
- Transfer text data into Excel.
- Use Excel to make and analyze graphs and to perform simple calculations.
Context for Use
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Using Excel to Graph Ocean Topography based on Sea Floor Spreading Rates
- Using Population Dynamics to learn about Excel Basics
- Introduction to Excel from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
References and Resources
- The web site Vostok data from WDC has additional background and more years of data (420,000 years) for those interested in longer records. This might be useful for follow-up discussion in lecture.
- Worldclimate Site for mean temperature and precipitation. Type in Vostok or any other city and you get back temperature and precipitation climatology.
- NASA GISS (more info) surface temperature graphs and data.