Jump to this Activity »
Climate History from Deep Sea Sediments

Michael Taber, Cinzia Cervato, William Ryan, Robert Arko, Doug Fils, Victor Fitzjarrald, Earth Exploration Toolbook Chapter

This activity focuses on reconstructing the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) as an example of a relatively abrupt global warming period. Students access Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sediment core data with Virtual Ocean software in order to display relevant marine sediments and their biostratigraphy.

Activity takes three class periods. Computer access required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:B) Heredity and evolution
Other materials addressing:
B) Heredity and evolution.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Pairings of students suggested - each pair with a computer.
  • Might be useful to precede activity with student investigation of the PETM and its significance climatologically.
  • A wrap-up discussion about what students learned and how to relate these lessons to the current discussion of global warming is necessary.
  • Ideally educators develop the inquiry questions together with students after an introduction to the tool.

About the Content

  • This detailed activity examines a period of abrupt climate change (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM) using data from a variety of sources - International Ocean Drilling Project and CHRONOS data portal - with Virtual Ocean Software.
  • Focus is on impact of this period on biota, linking paleoclimatic events to current projections for climate change impacts.
  • Students work with real data and get great insight into the work scientists do.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Addresses process of science - how we know what we know.
  • Includes concise and accurate information about observations and interpretation of the PETM. Links the PETM to present climate change by analogy.
  • Places the search for information about the PETM in the larger plate tectonics context.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is carefully designed to lead users through multiple steps of downloading software and data, manipulating data, and using both to answer questions about the PETM.
  • Support is provided throughout activity via show/hide options.
  • Assessment for this activity is spread throughout.
  • Instructions are well-written but complex.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Requires computer, Internet access, and ability to download Virtual Ocean software.
Entered the Collection: February 2012 Last Reviewed: July 2016

Jump to this Activity »