Climate Proxies

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    • Studying Past Climate

      How do we know how climate changed in the distant past? One way is by taking samples of sediment from the bottom of lakes and oceans, where dust, pollen and shells accumulate in fine layers over millions of years. Sediment cores, along with rocks, organisms and even large landforms can contain clues to the way climate has shaped Earth.

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In This Section

Coral Core

Coral Core

This section of a coral colony recorded conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean during at least 10 El Niño events.

Lake Sediment Core Model

Lake Sediment Core Model

This model represents part of a 3.6million year sediment record from far northeastern Siberia, Russia.

Grooved boulder

Grooved boulder

Rocks and pebbles embedded in the underside of flowing glaciers created the grooves, called glacial striations, on the surface of this granite gneiss. 

Tree Cross Section

Tree Cross Section

This cross-section of a chestnut oak (Quercus montana) from eastern Kentucky is a 283-year chronicle of local climate.

Tree Core

Tree Core

This core represents a continuous record of climate in the Hudson River Valley.