Climate in the distant past

By: Gisell Munoz

How do scientists study ancient climates?

Scientists in present day use thermometers and satellites to observe our climate. But if these instruments didn't exist in the distant past, how do they study ancient climates?

Scientists use our beautiful planet Earth to study distant past climates. They use clues that are buried in sediments, frozen glaciers or ice caps, and in the rings of trees.

Ice Cores

Ice cores are used to reveal what the temperature was like, and also how much CO2 or Methane there was in the air. This can be told because of small air bubbles that are trapped within the ice.

Tree Rings

Tree rings can be studied because temperature and precipitation affect tree growth. By studying tree ring data, this will provide scientists with climate change from year to year.
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Ocean Sediment

In ocean sediment, fossils can be found that will provide information about how the temperature was up to about a million years ago.