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Tropical Ice Cores Measure Climate

NOVA scienceNOW, Teachers' Domain

This video profiles glaciologist Lonnie Thompson and his research into tropical mountain glaciers as a way to understand climate history. Beginning in the 1970s, Thompson recognized that tropical ice cores contain information relating to tropical climate phenomena, including El Niño events and monsoons. These phenomena are not archived in ice from polar regions. Thompson explains that his archive of ice cores is full of clues that, taken together with records collected from around the world, can help scientists create a timeline that tells Earth's climate story.

Video length: 2:02 min.

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Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
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Human activities have increased GHG levels and altered global climate patterns
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • Tropical ice cores contain information relating to tropical climate phenomena, including El Niño events and monsoons, which are not archived in ice from polar regions.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Addresses basic paleoclimatological concepts. Notes the importance of tropical ice cores. Reviews important paleoclimate proxies, and how proxies are used to estimate past climate characteristics. All together, a very nice resource. Oxygen isotopes are mentioned twice, and both mentions do not clarify that the isotopes can be used only to "estimate" temperature, not "determine" temperature.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activities and related resources provided to help students better understand the science.
  • Uses a lot of higher-level terminology that may need to be defined.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video probably will not project well on a large screen.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN


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