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EES- Depth Study : Human Instrumental Records

Year 12 EES

Finding Resources in Accessit


Here are some books that you may find useful during your studies.  Search the Bennies catalogue Accessit for more, or browse the Non-fiction collection NFS..


Ludecke (public domain)

The longest six instrumental temperature records of monthly means reach back maximally to 1757 AD and were recorded in Europe. All six show a V-shape, with temperature drop in the 19th and rise in the 20th century. Proxy temperature time series of Antarctic ice cores show this same characteristic shape, indicating this pattern as a global phenomenon.


The basic GISS temperature analysis scheme was defined in the late 1970s by James Hansen when a method of estimating global temperature change was needed for comparison with one-dimensional global climate models. The scheme was based on the finding that the correlation of temperature change was reasonably strong for stations separated by up to 1200 km, especially at middle and high latitudes. This fact proved sufficient to obtain useful estimates for global mean temperature changes.

Proxy Map

From the ice sheets of Antarctica and the seabed of the Atlantic, to the boreal forests of Europe and corals of southeast Asia, proxy data is found across the Earth’s land and ocean.

NOAA holds an archive of more than 10,000 proxy datasets covering more than a dozen categories. With its permission, Carbon Brief has mapped this data. 

Use the categories in the legend on the left to select a particular proxy or archive type, and the buttons in the top-right hand corner to zoom in and out. Clicking on an individual data point will reveal the period covered by the data, the site name and a link to NOAA’s reference webpage for further information.


This talk will address the serious gap in understanding of scientific research and the tools used for deciphering the mechanisms and sequence of events in ancient climate change which result in global ecological change, ocean (de)oxygenation, and extinctions. Dr. Jeremy Owens conducts research that revolves around understanding biogeochemical evolution during major climatic events. Specifically, his work investigates the variability of oxygen contents in the ocean and the effects on marine chemistry and biology. This work requires developing new geochemical tools to better fingerprint the timing and evolution of ancient climate events.

Here we discuss the major climate proxies available to reconstruct information about past climates.


In paleoclimatology, or the study of past climates, scientists use what is known as proxy data to reconstruct past climate conditions. These proxy data are preserved physical characteristics of the environment that can stand in for direct measurements. Paleoclimatologists gather proxy data from natural recorders of climate variability such as tree rings, ice cores, fossil pollen, ocean sediments, corals and historical data. By analyzing records taken from these and other proxy sources, scientists can extend our understanding of climate far beyond the instrumental record. 

How do we observe today's climate? People from all walks of life use thermometers, rain gauges, and other instruments to keep a record of their weather.

The National Academies Press

Instrumental temperature records extend back over 250 years in some locations, but only since the late 19th century has there been a sufficient number of observing stations to estimate the average temperature over the Northern Hemisphere or over the entire globe.