In this lab we will use 5-pennies to model water molecules sampled from each of 11 different “ice core layers” dating from the present to almost 500,000 years ago. The goal is to determine the temperature of climate in the past by comparing the average isotopic mass of the water molecules in the ice cores to the standard average isotopic mass of water from the ocean.
Climate scientists have drilled into the ice in Greenland and Antarctica and recovered deep ice cores up to two miles long! Scientists are searching for evidence to reveal what the Earth’s climate was like in the past. Learning about the past will allow them to better predict where the climate is likely headed in the future. One thing that can be determined by analyzing the cores is the temperature of the atmosphere when each ice layer was formed. This analysis is done by studying isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen contained in the water molecules of the ice.