|Fig.1. Earth Day promotes efforts to protect the planet and the life it holds, from microbes on a plate to huge ecosystems (Credit, left to right, top to bottom: Julia Stevens, Christine Zenino/2009, |
Laura Cochrane/Mills Park Middle School, Acropara/2011)
On April 22, 1970, a celebration of the first Earth Day kicked off the modern environmental movement. Now, 46 years later, we are dealing with some of the hottest months on record, melting ice sheets, bleaching corals, and more.
However, recent and ongoing research projects offer hope for mitigating climate change challenges. Researchers are using scientific collections - from sediment cores to coral fossils - to understand ancient changes in our planet’s atmosphere and surface. This past year, our blog has highlighted efforts by earth scientists to use lessons from our past to preserve Earth’s future. Read to learn more about these studies and how people around the world are working hard to protect the planet:
- Bones of Coral Reefs: Research projects involving fossil corals and modern gene banks offer a chance for survival of our coral reefs, from those at Christmas Island to the Great Barrier Reef.
- Teaching Old Data New Tricks: Research done at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration relies heavily on sediment cores, ice cores, and tree rings to predict future weather fluctuations.
- Lessons of Ancient Soils: Human migration over the past couple centuries can be seen in the soil, in this scary example of environmental degradation.
- Microbes and Middle Schools: Modern earth science meets microbiology in an effort to train the next generation of scientists for future climate change and food security difficulties.
- Of Ice and Insects: Sediment cores and insect collections may hold the key to understanding how fluctuations in temperature and precipitation affect our oceans.