The Critical Zone

Summary and Final Tasks


To properly understand and plan for the potential range of variability in Earth's future climate and its effects on the Critical Zone, we must look to the ancient past to understand that Earth's climate has experienced extremes in climate, cold and warm, outside of the span of human history. You just read a lot about paleoclimatology, learned about various government agencies that are interested in paleoclimatology, and viewed maps of glacial and extremely warm greenhouse deposits of the past to consider what socially relevant information might be gleaned from those distributions.

As you shift your attention toward Lesson 5, you should feel comfortable describing: basic concepts of paleoclimatology and the type of information that can be collected to reconstruct ancient climates; Federal agencies with ongoing research in paleoclimatology; examples of paleoclimatologic information that may be relevant to your life and society; and issues regarding the rate of climate change and what we know about the potential abruptness of climate change. In Lesson 5, we will complete Unit 3 by studying regional climate change and taking a more focused look at links between atmospheric processes and the Critical Zone.

Reminder—Review the Lesson 4 Overview

You have reached the end of Lesson 4! Double-check the list of requirements on the Lesson 4 Overview page to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there.

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