Taking Earth’s Temperature: Delving into Climate’s Past is a gripping one-hour documentary that showcases scientific discoveries about climate change. Its central message is that we can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been.
Like detectives, scientists explore clues in lake sediments, coral reefs, deep caves, tree rings, and glaciers. The filmmakers follow one field expedition to Alaska, travel to laboratories where the research data are generated and then integrated into a global network, and interview scientists who work with predictive models to understand what past climate changes might mean for Earth’s climate future.
Some of these scientists travel to remote areas to retrieve ancient records—often braving extreme weather conditions. Taking Earth’s Temperature shows the lengths to which scientists will go to pursue their passion for understanding Earth’s climate. It follows a field expedition into the Arctic, where researchers augur through lake ice during a blizzard to collect sediment cores from the lake bottom.
The film also takes us to research laboratories in Europe and the United States where these and other hard-won samples are analyzed, using the latest scientific techniques. The results are then integrated into a global network to clarify large-scale climate changes.
By understanding natural climate variations, scientists can place recent climate changes in perspective, and they can test and improve predictive climate models that help us understand what may be in store for us in years to come.