• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: October 4, 2011

Single-celled plankton reveal past climates

Working group 138 on
Modern Planktic Foraminifera and Ocean Changes

Gerald Ganssen (The Netherlands)
Michal Kucera (Germany)

Financial Sponsors:

Multimedia |
How do scientists reconstruct past climate conditions on Earth? One way of doing this is by culturing living planktonic Foraminifera and analyzing their shell composition under present day conditions in the world oceans. A new short film on the importance of plankton for climate research has just been released. Watch it here.
Orbulina universa, a sand-sized single chambered test surrounded by delicate spines.

Orbulina universa, a sand-sized single chambered test surrounded by delicate spines.

Photo: Dr. Howard Spero;
University of California
For over 30 years scientists have been researching these tiny planktonic creatures to unlock living conditions that lie hidden within their shells. With these insights it's possible to create a suit of tools to analyze the same Foraminifera shells recovered from past times and use them to reconstruct climate and Ocean conditions over million of years.

This research group is co-sponsored by IGBP.

Share this page
Tell a friend (opens in new window)
Follow us

Please note!

IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

No events available

  • Global Change Magazine No. 84

    This final issue of the magazine takes stock of IGBP’s scientific and institutional accomplishments as well as its contributions to policy and capacity building. It features interviews of several past...

  • Global Change Magazine No. 83

    This issue features a special section on carbon. You can read about peak greenhouse-gas emissions in China, the mitigation of black carbon emissions and the effect of the 2010-2011 La Niña event on gl...