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Vostok Ice Core Excel Activity
With this exercise, students use Excel to graph and analyze Vostok ice core data (160,000 years of Ice core data from Vostok Station). Data includes ice age, ice depth, carbon dioxide, methane, dust, and deuterium isotope relative abundance (dD). Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions, learn about past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4 and about the climate and ice age cycle for the past 160,000 years. This is a complete activity that requires a working knowledge of Excel (see teaching notes and tips). This activity can be used as a homework assignment or lab activity in an introductory geoscience course with climate change content. The Vostok ice core data may also be used to make graphs for interactive lecture or other graphical analysis activities. This site also contains teaching notes and tips, teaching materials, assessment idea and additional resources on the Vostok ice core and world climates. This activity is part of the Starting Point Collection:
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
  • College (15-16)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Computer activity
    • Guide for instructor
    • Module / Unit
  • Dataset:
    • In-situ
  • Atmospheric science
  • Cryology
  • Educational theory and practice
Technical requirements:
Excel spreadsheet
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
The material on this site is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license as described here:
DLESE Catalog ID: SERC-STARTINGPOINT-000-000-000-047
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Contributor: Robert Mackay
Clark College