Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!
Unaweep Canyon in the Rocky Mountains includes a deep gorge with ancient landscapes and sediments. The inset image is of a "dropstone" from an ancient glacier.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Gerilyn Soreghan

Cold and Ice, and Heat, Episodically Gripped Tropical Regions 300 Million Years Ago
News story originally written on July 31, 2008

For a long time scientists have thought that the tropics stayed warm when much of the Earth was covered with glaciers 300 million years ago. But scientists have learned this wasn't the case. In fact, the tropics experienced cold temperatures at that time.

Scientists found evidence for this in an ancient glacial landscape in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. Three hundred million years ago, the region was part of the tropics when the continents were part of the supercontinent Pangaea.

The ancient tropical glaciers were very close to the ocean, so the toes of the glaciers were probably less than 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. This is much lower than the tropical glaciers on Earth during more recent glacial times.

This study shows that the Earth contains great amounts of information about its past climates, and discovering this type of information may help us understand and predict modern climate change."

Last modified October 2, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Glaciers and Ice Sheets

This page is not yet developed at the elementary level. Please check back for updates or click on the "Intermediate" button above for information....more

Sea Level

Sea level is the height of the ocean surface. Scientists measure sea level to figure out how much sea level rise is happening now because of global warming. If you tried to draw a flat line at the top...more

Effects of Climate Change Today

Have you ever taken your temperature to see if you are getting sick? Scientists have been taking the Earth's temperature and have found that it is getting warmer. During the past 100 years, the Earth's...more

Triggers of Volcanic Eruptions in Oregon's Mount Hood Investigated

Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more

Oldest Earth Mantle Reservoir Discovered

The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more

It’s Not Your Fault – A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more

Lower Solar Activity Linked to Changes in Sun's Conveyor Belt

The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more

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