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Ice Core Proxy Methods for Tracking Climate Change
(Released February 2006)

 
  by Christopher Readinger  

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Glossary

Anthropogenic effects: Processes or changes that occur due to human activities as opposed to occurring naturally. Many scientists believe that humans are indeed influencing climate change and that rising global averaged temperatures, retreating glaciers, and rising sea levels are all products of human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels.

Geomorphic surface features: Landforms that were created by physical processes that may or may not still be active. Paleoenvironmental studies can benefit greatly by studying these landforms For example in the Great Lakes region of the United States, scientists can map the extent of the Laurentide ice sheet which existed >20,000 years ago by studying terminal moraines and other deposits the ice sheet left behind.

Ice Divide: Similar to a continental divide, the ice divide is an imaginary line from which all ice and snow will flow away.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): A large scientific body established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to determine the "risk of human-induced climate change". The IPCC publishes thorough, well researched reports comprising the bulk of scientific research in the area of climate change.

Paleoclimatology: The study of past climates and climate change.

Proxy data: Scientific records that are extracted from natural sources, through which scientists can reconstruct past climates or environmental conditions.

Stable isotopes: Non-radioactive atoms having variations in neutrons. For example, while hydrogen usually has 1 neutron, a small percentage of hydrogen contains 2 neutrons.

Tropospheric turbidity: A relative measure of atmospheric turbulence and windiness. It is often measured in paleo-proxy sources by the amount of dust and/or pollen deposited in a sample.

Residence Time: The average period of time a substance will remain suspended in the atmosphere.