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PETM: Unearthing Ancient Climate Change

American Museum Natural History

In this video, a team of paleontologists, paleobotanists, soil scientists, and other researchers take to the field in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin to document how the climate, plants, and animals there changed during the Paleocene- Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). During this time a sudden, enormous influx of carbon flooded the ocean and atmosphere for reasons that are still unclear to scientists. The PETM is used as an analog to the current warming. The scientists' research may help inform our understanding of current increases in carbon in the atmosphere and ocean and the resulting impact on ecosystems.

Video length: 8:11 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

  • This topic shows the linkage between past climate events and our current one. The PETM is an area of vigorous scientific research and shows how climate science uses Earth's past to understand Earth's future.

About the Content

  • This video illustrates how a team of paleontologists and geochemists do field research to determine changes in climate and biota during the PETM.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video provides a clear and concise view of the way the earth scientists explore past climate change. The topic explored in this resource is relevant. Since the PETM is an analog for modern warming, it captures the viewer's attention and provides a nice example of one approach to projecting future changes on the planet.

About the Pedagogy

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Entered the Collection: January 2013 Last Reviewed: November 2016

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