Exploring Paleoclimatology in the Classroom Using Coral Radioisotope Data from Rarotonga Island in the South PacificAccess Coral Radioisotope Data from the Homepage for the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology (more info)
Use and Relevance
Use in Teaching
This dataset can be used to teach the following skills and topics Paleoclimatology, Physical Oceanography, and Biogeochemistry:
- Methods for reconstructing temperature records
- South Pacific gyre
- El Niño Southern Oscillation
- Relevance of decadal variations in sea surface temperature
- Using data to generate graphs comparing Sr/Ca ratios to historical temperature data
- Calculating statistical relationship between Sr/Ca ratios and empirical temperature data
- Using linear regression analyses to compare and evaluate methods for reconstructing climate history
- Interpreting chemical data from coral samples
Exploring the Data
Data Type and Presentation
Accessing the Data
Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations
Tools for Data Manipulation
About the Data
The Story Behind the Data
A non-technical narrative describing the data collection and scientific process is provided in a 'data story' from CIRES.
Limitations and Sources of Error
Limitations to climate reconstruction depend on the methodology used. Sr/Ca ratios as well as oxygen isotope data can be used to calculate SST with an accuracy near 0.5°C.
For More Detail
More complete information about the data is available in question/answer format from CORIS.
References and Resources
Scientific References that Use this Dataset
- Decadal sea surface variability in the subtropical South Pacific from 1726 to 1997 A.D.: Research article describing data collection and its significance for understanding the role of tropical forcing in SST oscillations (from Science).
Other Related Scientific References
- Sea-Surface Temperature from Coral Skeletal Strontium/Calcium Ratios: A research article describing the relationship between Sr/Ca ratios in coral to SST (from Science).
- Biological Controls on Coral Sr/Ca and Δ18O Reconstructions of Sea Surface Temperatures: This research article discusses the impact of biological factors on strontium and calcium uptake in coral and the robustness of using Sr/Ca ratios as a proxy for SST.
Other related Education Resources
- Air-sea Interactions: Activities in Oceanography: An example from Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences site that includes a module on the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
- An activity related to Coral Bleaching is described in a data tip from Bridge, the Ocean Sciences Education Resource Teacher Center archive.
- Data are archived at the NOAA Satellite and Information Service (more info)
- ReefBase (more info) provides information and data on coral, including a section on coral bleaching, which may be related to changes in SST.
- The National Climatic Data Center (more info) provides numerous links to websites on paleoclimatology and coral reefs.