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American Museum of Natural History


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 02 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, Asia

Analyzing Radiocarbon in Coral, Researchers Look Back on 400 Years of Monsoons

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  • This article summarizes research that used extremely old corals in Southeast Asia to study past climatic conditions, learning more about how the climate and major weather systems interact.
  • The video explains how the study of these old corals can contribute to a better understanding of weather and ocean conditions prior to human influences and provide a better basis for climate modeling in the future.
Teaching Tips


  • This is a great way to teach students about the importance of oceans and marine environments in understanding and solving climate change.
  • Together, the article and video present both the potential of marine research for climate action and a specific case study.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Before reading the article, students should be familiar with terms like salinity, pH, and temperature.
  • Students should also have a general understanding of how the climate affects weather patterns and how weather systems and storms can affect marine environments.
  • The article includes complex terms that students may need to look up as they read, so you may want to define some terms or have a vocabulary list prepared for them.


  • Have students research the implications of these findings for coastal communities affected by extreme weather and then write a short paper discussing how more accurate climate models could better help these communities plan for extreme weather conditions in the future.
  • As an extension, introduce students to the threats faced by corals such as ocean acidification and ocean heat waves, then have students write about what a decrease in corals means for the climate and biodiversity.
  • Math and science classes could use the Methods and Results sections of the scientific paper linked in the article to evaluate the statistical tests and experimental design used by the researchers.
  • Chemistry and biology classes can use this resource to connect to lessons about radioactive elements, using radioisotopes for research, and the importance of comprehensive data for climate modeling.
  • Use this lesson to teach students more about corals and their importance or this animation to show students how corals are threatened by warm ocean temperatures.
Scientist Notes
Over the years, climate change in East Asia has impacted on humans, livelihoods, the energy and agricultural sectors, etc. This resource calls attention to how the radiocarbon dating of Nhât, a coral is used to hindcast past climates, including changes in monsoon for the past 400 years in the region. Hence, there is a high confidence in using this resource for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
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