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Exploring Paleoclimatology in the Classroom

Exploring Paleoclimatology in the Classroom

This guide provides instructions for educators on how to access and use coral radioisotope data for classroom activities. The data consist of Sr/Ca ratios and Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) for coral samples near Rarotonga Island in the South Specific gyre, covering a 271 year period, from the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology. Topics include methods for reconstructing temperature records, the South Pacific Gyre and EL Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the relevance of decadal variations in sea surface temperature. Students will learn to use the data to generate graphs comparing Sr/Ca ratios to historical temperature data and to calculate the statistical relationship between isotope ratios and temperature. They may also use linear regression analysis to compare and evaluate methods for reconstructing climate history and interpret chemical data from coral samples. A link to the dataset website and to links for additional references are also provided.

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