Reconstruction of Paleoclimate

Laboratory Activity

A classroom/laboratory activity to learn about the isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, analyze the isotopic composition of ice, and understand how isotopic compositions can be used to recreate past temperatures and climate.

Students will plot graphs to analyze data from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica, learn about the ice age and the gas age, calculate past temperatures using hydrogen isotope data, and discuss the possible impacts of changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) concentrations on climate.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. How can you use hydrogen isotope data in an ice core to determine temperature?
  2. How can the isotopic composition of air bubbles in ice cores be used to recreate past climate?

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By Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College

Hosted at Columbia University, The Climate System course taught by Peter Schlosser, Stephanie Pfirman, Mingfang Ting, Jason Smerdon

Language: English

Location: Antarctica, Vostok Station

Grade: Undergraduate

Access: Online, Offline

Computer Skills: Intermediate

Discipline: Chemistry, Earth Sciences

Discipline Topics: Isotopes, Isotopic Ratios, Isotopic Composition in paloeclimate reconstructions

Climate Topics: Climate and the Cryosphere, Climate Variability Record