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Citizen Science: Using Ginkgo Leaves to Track Earth's Changing Climate
Q?rius Lab

 Ginkgo biloba leaves

Image credit: Smithsonian

FREE ticketed event

Researchers at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. need your help to track climate change over millions of years – using only plants!

Despite having evolved before dinosaurs and having faced three mass extinctions, Ginkgo trees are still living today. Our project “Fossil Atmospheres” is creating a record of how the atmosphere has changed through time by observing how the cells of ginkgo leaves have changed as well. With your help, we can collect valuable data to learn about the Earth’s ancient atmosphere.

Join us and meet paleobiologists Dr. Rich Barclay and Dr. Laura Soul. Rich and Laura will explain how leaves can be used to estimate atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which help us understand past temperature and environmental changes in Earth’s geologic history. As citizen scientists, you will examine modern and fossil leaves to mark microscopic features related to atmospheric changes in carbon dioxide (CO2). By improving our ability to quantify the effects of CO2 on climate, you will be contributing to the basic science underlying projections of future environmental change.

If you have a laptop, please bring it with you on the day of the event for your personal use in the effort to collect leaf data using an online tool. For participants who do not have a laptop, the Museum will have a limited number available for use.

Accessibility Information

The National Museum of Natural History is committed to providing inclusive experiences for all audiences. Please contact 202-633-3611 or email for access services. To view and print a map with accessible entrances, curb cuts, designated parking, and more for Smithsonian facilities on the National Mall, please download the Accessibility Map here. 

Assistive Listening SystemsThe Q?rius Theater contains an induction loop.

Assisted listening devices are also available in the Q?rius Theater.


Sign Language Interpretation

If you would like to have a sign language interpreter or real-time captioning (CART), you should call (202) 633-3611 or send an e-mail to Please allow time to schedule the request by contacting the Accessbility Office at least 2 weeks prior to the program. We will do our best to accomodate last-minute requests.

Time: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20013-7012
United States

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