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Summary of Climate TimeLine
The Climate TimeLine Information Tool
is designed as an interactive matrix to allow users to examine climatic information at varying scales through time. Beginning with the daily cycle of Earth's rotation on its axis, the Climate Timeline moves logarithmically using the powers of ten from the daily cycle on its axis(10-.027 years)and annual cycle around the sun(100 years)to 100,000 (105)year timescales and beyond.

Note: Popup menus will appear when you move the mouse over each time period on the left navigational panel. Each menu offers links to (1) a Summary of that timescale, (2) Climate Science that investigates climate cycles and systems, (3) Climate History,exploring the climate events and human development of each scale, and (4) Resources, including other online sources and ideas for further inquiry.

The following table provides an overview and summary of materials within the Climate Timeline website.
(You Are Here!)

Also see What is Variability? and
Forecasting Future Weather and Climate
Climate Science
Weather and climate forecasting have improved dramatically in recent years, yet accurate long-term forecasts remain elusive due to the complexity of climate systems.
Climate History
Human development and history has occurred since the end of the last Ice Age, and primarily in the relatively warm Holocene period of the past 10,000 years or so. Here we explore the relationship between humans and climate.


Online Resources and Inquiry Ideas for further explorations in climate processes and the link to human culture.

Daily Diurnal Cycle

Weather variability occurs at a scale of minutes, hours, and days, with the Earth's rotation on it's axis being a primary force for change.

Exploring how environmental systems and human activities are impacted by daily cycles.

Links to resources about today's weather and more.
Annual Cycle

The annual orbit of the Earth around the sun and the resulting seasonal changes in the atmosphere and oceans that dominate annual climate dynamics.
1 Year

Examining how flora and fauna adapt to seasonal variability through migration and adaptation.
1 Year

Inquiry into annual fluctuations and links to resources.
Interannual Scale

The oceans, with their great heat capacity and slow changing properties, give rise to climate processes like El Niño and La Niña.

Past 10 Years

El Niño Southern Oscillation's twin pulses of El Niño warming and La Niña cooling have impacted socio-ecological conditions in many parts of the world.

10 Years

Resources on ENSO include animations, plus inquiry ideas.
Decadal Scale

Internal ocean variability can be tracked through paleoclimatic data. Processes like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation occur on this scale.
Past 100 Years

Human population and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grew exponentially during the 20th Century while climate-related events impacted billions of people.
100 Years

The single most important factor in climate change during the 20th century may well prove to be human population growth.
Centennial Scale

Internal variability, including ocean and land carbon cycles and external forces such as solar variability and greenhouse gases that influence variability at the millennial scale.
Past 1,000 Years

Paleoclimatic records show large volcanic events and multi-decadal droughts in many parts of the world over the past millennium, contributing to social stress for people such as the Anasazi in the American southwest.
1,000 Years

What does the paleo record show about climate during the past 1000 years? Examining the "Little Ice Age" in Europe.
Millennial Scale

Data spanning multiple millennia allows scientists to evaluate the range of natural variability, the occurrence of abrupt climate change, and assess human influences on climate variations.
Past 10,000 Years

Melting glaciers and ice caps, rising sea levels and the flooding of the Black Sea are all events of the Holocene period following the last Ice Age.
10,000 Years

Learn more about climate change, including abrupt events during the Holocene.
Glacial and Interglacial Scale

Milankovitch cycles, that include precession of the equinoxes (23ky), obliquity (41ky) and eccentricity (100ky and 400ky periods), influence climate change at larger time scales.

Past 100,000 Years

Ice cores, ocean sediments and other records provide the oldest evidence of climatic variability over the span of thousands of years.

100,000 Years

What is the relationship between human development and climate?
Beyond 100,000 Years

Tectonic and other processes that impact climate and the development of life.
Beyond 100,000 Years

Human evolution and the origins of life; a brief summation.
Beyond 100,000 Years

The "Snowball Earth Theory" revisited and more.
Images are turning globe (NGDC), Earth tilted on axis (NOAA Paleo Program), ENSO sea surface temperature (NOAA), ADO (NASA), Giant Sequoia (NOAA Paleo Program), Statuette of a seated harp player, ca. 2800–2700 BBC (Metropolitan Museum,, and glacier (NOAA Paleo Program).
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Last Updated Wednesday, 20-Aug-2008 11:22:39 EDT by
Please see the Paleoclimatology Contact Page or the NCDC Contact Page if you have questions or comments.