Climate Proxies: General Collection


Researchers core Baker Lake in the Bitterroot Mountains to obtain a paleoclimate record of the area using sediment, plant remains, and charcoal. Photo by Eric Edlund, courtesy of Cathy Whitlock.

Below is a set of internet resources such as news articles, web sites, and reference pages that provide a comprehensive array of general information about paleoclimate and climate proxies.
  • Cold Climate, Warm Climates: How Can We Tell Past Temperatures?. This brief NASA article provides general information about paleoclimatology (the study of past climate). Focusing on ice core data and foraminifera (shelled marine microorganisms) in deep sea sediments, the article provides a summary of how paleoclimate can be inferred. (more info)
  • Deep Sea Coring. This Ocean and Climate Change Institute module features a brief, but image-rich overview of ocean drilling and sediment analysis to determine paleoclimate (past climate). This site is the first of a 3-page module, the other two sites (Describing the Core; Sampling Techniques) are linked at the top of the article. (more info)
  • Foram Facts- An Introduction to Foraminifera. This Museum of Paleontology web page discusses foraminifera (forams for short), which are shelled marine microorganisms. It includes what are forams, where they live, their significance (in relation to biostratigraphy, paleoecology, and oil exploration), and an image-rich section about foram classification. (more info)
  • Ground-Truthing the Paleoclimate Record. This Oceanus article provides an overview of paleoclimate studies by discussing past and current methods for determining paleoclimate. It explains how the geological record has become an important archive for understanding the range of natural variability in climate, the processes that cause climate change on decadal and longer time scales, and the background variability from which greenhouse warming must be detected. It also discusses new technologies such as sediment traps and satellite imagery that help researchers ground-truth abundance of foraminifera, shelled microorganisms that serve as climate proxies. The article features enlargeable color images and diagrams. (more info)
  • Paleoclimate. This image-rich World View of Global Warming article provides a general overview of paleoclimatology, focusing on the interpretation of sediment cores as a proxy for climate change. The article features color pictures of core analyses and graphs of climate change inferred from ice core data. (more info)
  • Sedimentary Record Yields Several Centuries of Data. This Oceanus article discusses reconstructing past climates based on proxies in ocean sediment. It focuses on climate during the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period based on foraminifera data from the Sargasso Sea. The results from this study are unique in that they are the first deep sea ocean sediments to resolve climate during these times, they show a long warming trend, and they enhance other North Atlantic climate models (past and future). This article features enlargeable color diagrams and photos. (more info)
  • What is a Foram?. This Ocean World website is part of a collection of sites related to foraminifera (also called forams), a group of shelled marine microorganisms. This page provides very general information about forams. This site features definitions for key terms and a list of related resources and links. It also includes a menu of links to other sites within the collection, which include information about foram evolution, their significance, their use for correlation and highlighting pollution, and foram-related activities. (more info)

Other Climate Proxy Collections



Advanced Collection: Compiled for professionals and advanced learners, this climate proxy/paleoclimate collection includes resources such as journal articles, academic reviews, and surveys.


For Educators: This climate proxy/paleoclimate collection includes activities, assignments, and reading materials created specifically for educators.



Additional Resources


For additional resources about red tide, harmful algal blooms, and related issues search the Microbial Life collection.