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Exploring Paleoclimatology using Vostok Ice Core Data
This guide for instructors provides information on how to use data from ice cores in the classroom. The data consist of atmospheric gas percentages, such as CO2, in fossil air bubbles trapped in ice cores taken at the Vostok research station near the center of the Antarctic ice sheet. The data provides an historic record of atmospheric gas composition, which scientists use as a baseline to evaluate the effects of human activity. Classroom topics include methods for reconstructing past climates; ice ages and glacial cycles; the use isotopic data to determine temperature or age; and global warming. Students will learn to use the data to make graphs illustrating atmospheric changes over time; use math to process data to determine relationships between temperature and CO2 levels; compare data from independent experiments; and use proxy data to create visual representations of glacial cycles. Links are provided to download the data, and to a web-based application (WebMapper) that allows students to create graphs. There are also links to scientific references and educational resources that use this dataset, and to online resources with related information.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
    • Computer activity
    • Guide for instructor
  • Cryology
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Environmental science
Technical requirements:
Raw data requires Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet application
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
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DLESE Catalog ID: DATA-CLASS-000-000-000-011
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Carleton College
Science Education Resource Center (SERC)