Paleoclimatology – Earth’s Prehistoric Climate

Image Attribution: Image by Mauricio Antón, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic, found on Wikimedia Commons

Paleoclimatology is the scientific study of prehistoric climate on Earth.

First and foremost, prehistory is the time before written history, and instrumental weather measurements. Studying the world before human records, depends on studying natural sources.

Prehistoric climate data is collected from: corals; ice cores; lake sediments; ocean sediments; tree rings; and more. The National Centers for Environmental Information(NCEI), has a section for Paleoclimate datasets; and general information.


Climate History Network | Historical Climatology

The Paleobiology Database: Revealing the history of life.

USGS – Paleoclimate Research

Coral Reefs and Temperature History

Coral reefs are mounds of compacted coral skeletons. While coral grows, it’s hard limestone composition is affected by surrounding environment. As a result, looking at older sections of a coral/coral reef offers a timeline of temperatures.

Pollen Grains and Past Plant Conditions

Analyzing pollen grains helps to identify the plant type origin. In addition, only certain types of plants can live in certain conditions. Therefore pollen tells us about the climate it came from. Fortunately, the layers of sediment deposited on the ocean floor contain pollen grains. The deeper the layers, the farther back in time.

Trees and Climate History

The environment’s climate/temperature, also affects how trees are composed. For this reason, the study of tree rings, Dedrochronolgoy, is a key tool for paleoclimatologist. Trees can grow for very long times, offering a lengthy transcript of the earth.

Paleoclimatology & Predictions

No doubt, understanding paleoclimatic records helps us to improve our ability to simulate future climate. By looking at the causes of past climate changes, we can explain current changes. Therefore, distinguish factors which are from humans or natural causes.

Terminology Attribution: “Wiktionary, the free dictionary” by The Wikimedia Foundation, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Knowledge Attribution: National Centers For Environmental Information(NCEI), by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), licensed under CC0 1.0.