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Scientists must be aware of spans and resolutions of different record types when looking for data about a specific time in history.

The records must span the time period of interest, but they must also have appropriate resolution to address the issue being studied.

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Layers of sediments that form in lakes and oceans as sand, rock fragments, and soil erode from other areas and are deposited at the lake or ocean bottom.

Typically, the sediment travels in rivers, which flow into lakes and oceans.

Ice cores can provide data with a yearly resolution, and some records span periods of hundreds of thousands of years.

Continuous climate records embedded in ice form in areas where year-round cold temperatures prevent fresh accumulations of snowfall from melting in the summertime.

The long cores are cut into shorter segments and split lengthwise down the middle.

(lower) Typically, records that have large spans tend to have lower resolutions, while records with short spans tend to have higher resolutions.These items fall to the water surface and sink to the bottom.Skeletal materials from organisms and algae living within the water also 'rain' down to the bottom, particularly in deep-ocean environments.The ship JOIDES Resolution (top left) has recovered thousands of sediment cores from the ocean floor with a drilling rig.Scientists aboard the ship (top right) clean and prepare one of the 9.5 meter-long cores soon after it was pulled up from the deep ocean.Ice Cores Credit: Ken Abbott, Office of Public Relations, University of Colorado and NOAA Paleoclimatology Program/Department of Commerce (right).

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