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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.

Video courtesy of the NSF.

Study Past Climate to Predict Future

Climate scientists use "proxy data" to study climates of the past, before humans with thermometers began keeping temperature records. These "proxies" include tree rings, layers within ice cores pulled from glaciers and ice sheets, growth layers in coral, and layers of sediments from the bottoms of lakes and oceans.

Studies of past climates help us anticipate how Earth's climate may change in the coming decades as a result of global warming. Climate scientists are especially interested in previous "interglacial" (between ice ages) climates, when Earth was warm. The scientists seek to determine how high temperatures rose, how quickly the climate changed, and which parts of the globe warmed most and least.

Human influences on climate have already committed us to at least several decades of warming in the coming century. The better we can anticipate how our climate may change, the better equipped we will be to adapt to those changes. Studies of past climates help us more fully understand the changes we are seeing today and can expect in the coming years.

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Last modified September 15, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA