Examining long-term global climate change on the web

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Students can use web-based data sets to investigate long-term global change. By accessing, graphing, and interpreting available greenhouse gas, population, oxygen isotope, and temperature data sets, students can compare data that span two distinct time intervals: The last few hundred years, and the last few hundred thousand years. Data for the last 250 years can be examined to investigate relatively recent trends in atmospheric CO2, population, and temperature. Data for the last 250,000 and 450,000 years demonstrate the use of isotopes as a proxy for temperature, the existence of climate cycles, and long-term changes in atmospheric CO2 and temperature. The activity begins by posing an open-ended question that makes study of global change relevant to students. Students complete the activity by using their interpretations to compose a brief written report. Technical, problem solving, and communication skills are all emphasized in this inquiry-based activity.

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Journal of Geoscience Education