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Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
July/August 2002

Volume 8 Number 7/8
ISSN 1082-9873

NOAA Paleoclimatology Program

Global Temperature Anomalies

Global Warming.
Global Temperature Anomalies (1850 - 2000).

(Click here to view larger version of image.)
Images courtesy of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program.
Used with permission.

The focus of this month's featured collection is the Paleoclimatology Program web site. Paleoclimatology is the study of past climates. In order to avoid future "climate surprises" (abrupt, unexpected climatic changes), the Paleoclimatology Program collects evidence of climate change that has occurred over hundreds and even thousands of years. The data include paleoclimate records from trees, coral, sediments, glaciers and other natural "proxy" sources. These data sources help determine the natural causes of past climate changes (for example: volcanic eruptions and solar variability), as well as also help determine whether humans are affecting the Earth's climate system in the present day. The study of climate change over the last thousand years indicates that global warming is real, and, furthermore, that global warming over the past few years is increasing at an unprecedented rate when compared to the warming that occurred in the previous 1200 years.

As a central location for paleoclimatic data, research, and education, the Paleoclimatology Program aims to help the world share scientific data and information related to climate system variability and predictability. The broad and varied website of the Paleoclimatology Program offers: information from research programs and funding opportunities; interactive paleoclimatic data programs; an international databank; educational resources; and other special features.

The Paleoclimatology website also serves as a portal to the WDC-A, the World Data Center for Meteorology, Asheville, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The portal is collocated and operated by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), under which the Paleoclimatology Program operates. The WDC-A acquires, catalogues, and archives data, and makes the data available to international scientific investigators without restriction, including special research data sets prepared under international programs. The data sets include those from the IGY, World Climate Program (WCP), and Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP). The WDC-A's mission is to make data submission easy and efficient, and to help preserve climate data as a legacy to be used by scientists and other colleagues today and in the future.

The Paleoclimatology Program web site also presents Paleo Perspectives, a section of the site that deals with the subjects: Drought, designed to help educate, inform and highlight the history and importance of drought; and Global Warming. Each of these two subjects are discussed from the view of "The Beginning", "The Story", "The Data", and "A Final Word". For example, under the section on Global Warming The Story, provides a background on climate issues and the scientific study of climate variability, and The Data, offers a comprehensive look at the instrumental and paleoclimatic data that tells us how the Earth's temperature has changed over the centuries.

Field Drought 1997 Image of Setting Sun
North American Drought
Photograph of a field during the drought of 1997.
Courtesy of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program. Used with permission.
Global Warming.
Photograph from the Paleo Perspective on Global Warming.

Courtesy of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program. Used with permission.

Another feature of the Paleoclimatology Program site, Paleoclimatology Slides, includes vivid photographs of field research conducted around the globe, high-quality graphics of important datasets, and descriptive diagrams, making these sets ideal instructional aides. Included are an online glossary, detailed background information and large, high-resolution versions of the slides, as well as detailed narratives designed to accompany them. Available slide sets cover such interesting topics as "The Ice Ages", "Climate and the Classic Maya Civilization", "Coral Paleoclimatology", "Polar Ice Cores", and "Tree Rings", among others.

Through Other Features, NOAA Paleoclimatology assists the community by connecting scientists via an address exchange database, newsletters and reports, a paleoclimatology discussion list, and a software exchange. Numerous live links to Other Places of Interest are also provided.

The multi-faceted website of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program is at <>.

Copyright© 2002 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/july2002-featured.collection