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GEOG 305 (Castagna)

GEOG 305 (Castagna)

Paleoclimate Research Project Details

Project Guidelines

2.5 Paleoclimate Research Project

What You Are Going To Learn

The point of this paper is to become capable of decoding and understanding primary research, in other words, the source of information about how climate is changing.

Project Guidelines

The project for this course involves the analysis of past climate change in a specific region of the world. The goal of this exercise is to apply the concepts of climate change and its past effects to a landscape for which there is personal interest to you and, more practically, adequate literature. These two elements do not always go together, and careful planning is necessary to ensure that you have sufficient resources for your project.

Paleoclimate research involves recreating past climates using proxies, of which there are many types.  More information on proxies can be found in Chapter 9.  Your paper should focus on primary research where the focus is on collection of proxies and analysis of those proxies.  This should not include modelling, which means anything where simulations are generated.

The first step in this project is completing two library tutorials on research and writing practices.

The second step in pursuing this project is to choose a region of interest. It is your responsibility to do a cursory examination of the literature to assess the availability of data for your region. The spatial extent of your region should be large enough to maximize the likelihood of sufficient literature, but not so large that you will be overwhelmed with data. California is off-limits for this assignment.

Your paper should address the climate of your region during one (and only one) of the following time periods:

  • The Last Glacial (50 kya-15 kya)
  • The Pleistocene/Holocene Transition (15 kya-10 kya)
  • The Early Holocene (10 kya-5 kya)
  • The Medieval Era (900 AD-1350 AD)

Paper Guidelines

The body of your paper should be based on the analysis of two peer-reviewed academic journal articles.  Include in your paper:

  1. An introduction to your region of study, including the present-day physical features, natural biomes, and climate characteristics (one to two pages).
  2. A summary of each of the journal articles that focuses on the paleoclimate of your region during your chosen time period (one to two pages each article). Each summary should include:
    1. The study site location.
    2. The methods used in the study to reconstruct the paleoclimate (in simplified,“lay” terms), including the nature of the evidence presented.
    3. The technique(s) used in the study to establish chronology (i.e. when things happened) (in simplified, “lay” terms).
    4. The key findings of the study vis-à-vis the paleoclimate during your chosen time period.
    5. A discussion wherein you explore the extent to which the evidence presented in the two studies establishes a consensus about climatic conditions during the time period, or indicates that there is still considerable uncertainty remaining (one to two pages).

Project Paper Format

All documents should be saved and uploaded to Canvas in one of the following file formats:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
  • Portable document format (.pdf)

Your papers must be written in a 12-point font Times New Roman.  Double-space the entire paper, except for figure captions, which may be single-spaced.  Use one-inch margins around your entire paper.  There is no need for a separate title page for your project.  Rather, center your title at the top of the page in bold, skip two lines to add your name, and start the text two lines below your name.

You may include maps, graphs, or other visual aids in your paper; the space used for graphics should not be counted toward the 4-page total length.  Any graphics used should be referenced within the text of your paper, numbered sequentially (figure 1, figure 2, etc.), and include a short descriptive caption.


Make sure that all studies are properly referenced following the author-date guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style (the format preferred by the Association of American Geographers).  For help with this format, see the following: Chicago Manual of Style (Links to an external site.).