Pollen and Climate Change

John Pickle, Concord Academy, Concord, MA, john_pickle@concordacademy.org

Becca Kranz, student at BU Academy, Boston, MA, becca-kranz@comcast.net

Katharina Frazier, Science Education Consultant, TERC, katharina.frazier@gmail.com

Published: July 2011.


Screen shot from Pollen Viewer 3.2. Software created by Phil Leduc. Click image for a larger view.

In this chapter, you will study the relationship between climate and the distribution of plants across North America. You will do this through the use of a unique tool called the Pollen Viewer, which allows you to animate the retreat of the North American glacier and the migration of plant species during the waning period of the most recent Ice Age. You will select a region to study and collect data about plant abundance across a period of time. After importing that data into a spreadsheet program, you can produce graphs that highlight how plant communities have responded to regional climate change across that period.

The map to the right, generated by the Pollen Viewer tool, shows the distribution of Alder trees (gray to green shades) and ice (light blue) across North America 21,000 years ago. The complete time series of maps across 21,000 years and for over 40 plant species are available in the Pollen Viewer tool.

This chapter is part of the Earth Exploration Toolbook. Each chapter provides teachers and/or students with direct practice for using scientific tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.

      Next Page »

The EET web site collects no personally identifying information and so is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The site is constructed with tools that attempt to ensure the broadest possible accessibility in line with section 508 and w3c guidelines.