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To prepare for this exercise, students do background reading (from journal articles selected by instructor) and participate in classroom lectures about various types of qualitative and quantitative paleoclimate data (including rock/sed. type, stable isotopes, and fluid inclusions). Then, they are given the assignment and asked to complete it on their own (or in groups of two). The assignment consists of four paleotemperature curves. One curve is from the Vostok ice core of Antarctica and another represents the GRIP ice core from Greeenland (Jouzel et al., 1987, 1993; Chapellaz et al., 1997). Two halite cores, one from Death Valley and one from Chile, are also represented (Lowenstein et al., 1998, 1999; Hein, 2000). Students answer written questions that ask them to identify coldest and warmest times in the past 150,000 years, that ask them if cores can be correlated, that ask them if they can distinguish local, regional, and global warming and cooling trends. They are also asked how to better resolve paleoclimate data from this time period. The final questions ask students how confident they would feel about using this data to make paleoclimate predictions into the future. After the students have completed in turned in their assignment, we have a class discussion about the exercise, using the questions to guide us. This discussion can be supplemented with predictions from climate models and explanations of different types of paleoclimate data.
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