Tel: +44 (0)207 612 6255 | Mail:

Climate change workshop

Jonathan Holmes

The study of climate change is an important branch of modern Geography. It is listed as a topic in the DfE’s consultation document ‘Proposed GCE AS and A Level Subject Content for Geography’ (2013) and forms a component of A-syllabuses. It forms a significant part of university degree courses and is a prominent research focus in many UK Geography departments. However, the topic is glossed over in many A-level texts and anecdotal evidence from UCL undergraduates suggests that they have not covered it in much detail prior to university.

The aims of this workshop are

  1. To provide an overview of the nature of, and evidence for, climate change on a range of timescales over the pre-instrumental period
  2. To evaluate the main causes
  3. To demonstrate some of the main sources of data sources available
  4. To place recent, anthropogenically-induced, climate change within the context of natural climate change


Bradley, R.S. (2014) Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary (3rd edition). Elsevier/Academic Press, San Diego.

This is an extremely comprehensive and valuable book that is largely focused around different archives of past climate.

Broecker, W. S. (2013) What drives glacial cycles? Eldigo Press

A short and thought-provoking e-book written by one of the doyens of the palaeoclimate community, which covers many of the themes addressed in this course. Download free here.

Cronin, T. M. (2009) Paleoclimates: Understanding Climate Change Past and Present. Columbia UP.

A comprehensive text, centered on climate change on different timescales from ‘deep time’ through to the Anthropocene, dealing along the way with tectonic-, orbital- and millennial-scale change in some detail. Also contains chapters on the modern system and on methods of palaeoclimate reconstruction. The latter topic is not covered in anywhere near as much detail as in Bradley, but the chapter is nonetheless useful.

Lowe, J. and M. J. C. Walker (2014) Reconstructing Quaternary Environments. (3rd edition) Routledge

The third edition and substantially updated version of a ‘classic’ text that was first published in 1984. Very strongly techniques-based and worth reading alongside Bradley. Particularly strong on dating methods.

Ruddiman, W. F. (2014) Earth’s Climate: Past and Future. W. H. Freeman. (3rd edition)

An important text that is mainly focussed on climate change on different timescales i.e. tectonic, orbital and abrupt/millennial. Strong on orbital forcing. Contains valuable ‘text boxes’ that look in greater detail at key topics. The book includes a chapter on the modern climate system and one on sources of palaeoclimate information.


NOAA National Climatic data Center Palaeoclimatology pages

Useful ‘Paleoclimatology Perspectives’ and ‘Education and Outreach’ pages, in addition to data (see below).

USGS (US Geological Survey) Climate and Land Use Change Research and Development Program

Contains lots of useful information.

PAGES (Past Global Changes) Project of the International Geosphere Biospehere Program

UK Met office

Lots of useful information here.

Describes itself as “a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists” Contains much useful information.

Data archives

NOAA National Climatic data Center Palaeoclimatology pages

Contains a wealth of palaeoclimate data. Fully open access.


Contains a wealth of palaeoclimate data, although not all of it is open access.

UK climate Historic station data

Climate Research Unit at University of East Anglia

Contains a wealth of climate data, mainly from meteorological records.

Insolation data

Can be generated using the AnalySeries program. v2.0.4.2 can be downloaded from, but it is Mac OS only.

Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC)

Carbon dioxide data available from

Photographic resources

PAGES paired photos


Taking Earth’s Temperature: Delving into Climate’s Past (Northern Arizona University’s IDEA Lab Productions)

NERC RAPID video A 12-minute video describing the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s research programme RAPID, on rapid climate change. Available on YouTube