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Unit 1: Carbon & Climate in the Past



What does the area around your school look like? Maybe there are houses, trees, apartment buildings, stores, or fields. In the geologic past things probably looked different — very different! There were times before life, times when dinosaurs roamed Earth, and times when thick sheets of ice covered large portions of the continents. In times with continental ice sheets, the climate of Earth was likely very different, too. For example, during ice ages, the climate of Earth was, on average, much cooler than it is today. Certain factors caused the Earth to be cooler than it is now.

But maybe you have heard in the news about the opposite issue: global warming. Some possible solutions to global warming and climate change are related to things you and all humans do today and in the future. You will learn about some of those things later in Carbon Connections.

In contrast, learning about the causes of climate change is a little different issue. One way to learn about climate change now is by studying some of the causes of climate change in the past. As you will see, geoscientists have a number of ways to gather evidence and study the clues. This includes computer models, measurement, and carefully making inferences from the geologic record. The clues come from ancient rocks, ice, and organisms.

You can see the flow of lessons and big ideas for Unit 1 on the Unit 1 Organizer. Some important concepts that you will learn in Unit 1 are:

  • A number of indicators provide evidence for past climates of Earth.
  • Forcings lead to a response, and sometimes the response has a time lag.
  • Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, as well as a key part of the carbon cycle.
  • Models and simulations help you to understand physical processes and much larger systems on Earth.
  • Investigating the carbon cycle and Earth's climate relies on bringing together many disciplines of science.

Your teacher will instruct you as you start Unit 1.