Teaching Climate Change from the Geologic Record

Varved lake sediments
This image shows glacial varves from the Connecticut Valley at the southern end of Lake Hitchcock near Hartford, Connecticut. The winter (W) or non-melt season layers (dark, top part of each annual layer) contrast with the light-colored summer (S) layers. These varves were deposited at least 350 years after ice recession at the site, when the receding ice margin was 45 km to the north near Holyoke, Massachusetts. Sedimentation was still dominantly controlled by the input of sediment from the receding glacier, but with significant contributions from rivers that no longer carried glacial meltwater. Image and image caption courtesy of Ridge, J.C., 2008, "The North American Glacial Varve Project," sponsored by The National Science Foundation and The Geology Department of Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts. Accessed Feb. 10, 2010

August 10-11, 2010 with optional field trip on August 12
University of Wyoming - Laramie

This workshop has already taken place. Workshop outcomes can be viewed on the program page.

This workshop will be held in conjunction with the AMQUA Biennial Meeting and is co-sponsored by the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research and the American Quaternary Association .

A large part of our understanding of past climate change is derived from the geologic record. Assemblages of pollen grains preserved in lake sediments, changes in soils through time, and the bones of now-extinct mammals all reveal information about ancient ecosystems and past climates. Climate change researchers recognize that these geological insights are critical for assessing the sensitivity of plants and animals to future climate changes.

In this workshop, we will introduce participants to an array of paleoclimate records and explain how they are collected, analyzed, and interpreted. The workshop will provide hands-on opportunities to examine fossils and use public-domain databases to develop classroom teaching exercises. It will also include an optional, one-day field trip to world-renowned archeological sites near Laramie, WY.

View the workshop program | Read the workshop overview

Workshop Conveners

Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University (USNC/INQUA Chair)
Karin Kirk, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
Alison Smith, Kent State University
Greg Wiles, The College of Wooster
Rolfe Mandel, University of Kansas
Cathryn Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College

Logo for the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research (USNC-INQUA) This workshop is part of the On the Cutting Edge professional development program for current and future geoscience faculty, supported by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers with funding provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation - Division of Undergraduate Education . Additional support is provided by the American Quaternary Association and the U.S. National Committee for Quaternary Research . This workshop was built upon prior workshops, including Teaching Climate Change: Lessons from the Past and Teaching Climate Change with Ice Core Data.

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