Nicholas Shackleton was one of the first scientists to study ice and sediment cores from Antarctica, which helped document climate change fluctuations over thousands of years. Here, scientists take ice core samples from ice near the North Pole.

Photograph by Maria Stenzel
  • On June 23, 1937, English scientist Nicholas Shackleton was born. Shackleton was an expert in geology and paleoclimatology, the study of climate change. By studying sediment cores from the seabed and ice cores from Antarctica, Shackleton helped document the relationship between carbon dioxide, a gas in the atmosphere, and climate change. Shackleton died in 2006.


    Shackleton's work helped scientists better understand global warming, the current period of climate change. Scientists now know that carbon dioxide is a so-called “greenhouse gas” that traps solar heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, necessary for life on Earth, affect whether glacial ice advances (covers more of the Earth) or retreats (melts, and covers less of the Earth).

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    carbon dioxide Noun

    greenhouse gas produced by animals during respiration and used by plants during photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is also the byproduct of burning fossil fuels.

    climate change Noun

    gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Earth's Changing Climate
    document Verb

    to keep track of.

    gas Noun

    state of matter with no fixed shape that will fill any container uniformly. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion.

    geology Noun

    study of the physical history of the Earth, its composition, its structure, and the processes that form and change it.

    ice core Noun

    sample of ice taken to demonstrate changes in climate over many years.

    paleoclimatology Noun

    study of the atmosphere of prehistoric Earth.

    seabed Noun

    the floor of the ocean.

    sediment core Noun

    cylinder of accumulated sediment of a region, visible as layers.