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Orbital Forcing and Earth’s Climate

Teaching Module

A set of classroom/laboratory activities to reconstruct Earth’s past climate using isotopic composition data from ice cores and to highlight the influence of orbital forcing and atmospheric carbon dioxide feedback on Earth’s climate.

Students will reconstruct Earth’s past temperatures by plotting graphs of isotopic compositions from ice cores in Antarctica. They will determine the relative contributions of orbital parameters (eccentricity, obliquity, precession) and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on Earth’s past climate.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. How can you use isotopic compositions to reconstruct past climate?
  2. What is the influence of orbital forcing on Earth’s climate?
  3. How are temperature variations amplified by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide
About Tool
Tool Name From Isotopes to Temperature, & Influences of Orbital Forcing on Ice Core Records
Discipline Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Cryosphere, Isotopes, Isotopic Compositions, Isotopic Ratios, Orbital Forcing, Milankovitch Cycles, Climate Feedbacks
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere, Climate and the Cryosphere, Climate Variability Record, Long-term Feedback Mechanisms
Type of tool Teaching Module
Grade Level Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Spruce Schoenemann, UW Earth and Space Sciences for the University of Washington in the High School Climate Science Course.
Hosted at PROGRAM ON CLIMATE CHANGE, College of the Environment, University of Washington.
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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