How do archaeologists learn about climatic conditions and their effects on people in the past? In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted so violently that the sound of the eruption could be heard 1,600 miles away. Gases from the volcano shot into the stratosphere almost six miles above the Earth’s surface and lingered for years. Sulfur dioxide combined with water molecules to form sulfate particles that reflected sunlight away from Earth, gradually causing the planet’s surface to cool. The colder temperatures caused severe weather events worldwide.
Climate scientists study evidence in the geologic record, such as fossils, to figure out what climate was like over hundreds of thousands of years (“paleoclimate”). One fossil they use is pollen, a part of a flowering plant that helps make a seed. Pollen can be blown into lakes, where it is preserved in sediment. Pollen from spruces, which do well in cold climates, can suggest what climate was like when spruce pollen was deposited.
People depend on their energy resources, so they need to know how to use them wisely. How do you think people can use the energy they rely on to heat their homes more efficiently?
Watersheds can be as small as a lake or thousands of square miles. The natural or human-made surface of the land and the sediments and rocks below are all part of a watershed. Rainfall
supplies watersheds, and water moves across the surface or infiltrates and moves through the ground.
In this activity you will use a computer model to explore the movement of water within your watershed.
• Computer with internet
Tap water from the kitchen has very different properties from water in a stream or a pond, even if they might appear similar. Water quality refers to the physical and chemical properties of water
that make it suitable for a particular use based on biological, physical, and chemical characteristics. A fish might live in sedimentrich water at the bottom of a lake, but you would not want to drink it!