New exhibition at the Stephen Hui Geological Museum showcases the last 65 million years of climate change

April 22, 2015
  • Dr. Petra Bach, Curator of the Stephen Hui Geological Museum, was introducing the large-scale 3-D climate change graph.

    Dr. Petra Bach, Curator of the Stephen Hui Geological Museum, was introducing the large-scale 3-D climate change graph.

The Stephen Hui Geological Museum of the Department of Earth Sciences launched a permanent exhibition on “Cenozoic Climate Change” on this year’s Earth Day (April 22, 2015). The Cenozoic Era is the most recent geological period which spans from about 65 million years ago (Ma) to present. The Cenozoic is sometimes called the Age of Mammals because the extinction of dinosaurs at the beginning of the Cenozoic allowed mammals to greatly diversify and grow in size during this period.

The display comprises themes such as Clues to Past Climates, From Greenhouse to Icehouse and Human Impact. In the exhibition, there is a large-scale 3-D climate change graph to demonstrate the global climate change during the last 65 million years of Earth history based on stable oxygen isotope records derived from marine microorganisms. Other paleoclimate proxies including fossils of an ancient rhinoceros, a frog and a fish, a 3000-year-old fossil wood of a pine tree, a 100000-year-old loess sample, marine sediments and marine microorganisms, etc. are displayed for the first time in Hong Kong.

Through the scientific study and analysis of such information, scientists are able to read past global and regional climate records and to reconstruct the last 65 million years of global climate change. Scientists also hope to gain more understanding of the relationship between past and future climates and on how human activity might impact climate change in the future. For example, scientists investigate whether the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in an extent that the climate would respond in an abrupt and unexpected way.

The exhibition is a knowledge exchange effort made by the Department of Earth Sciences to make climate researches accessible to the public.

More information about Stephen Hui Geological Museum
Location: G/F & 1/F, James Lee Science Building, The University of Hong Kong
Opening hours: Mon - Fri, 1-6pm; Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, University and Public Holidays
Enquiry: 2241 5472 / E-mail:

Special Guided Tours on Climate Change are available in English or Cantonese on April 25, May 2, 9 and 16 from 2pm to 3pm. Pre-registration is recommended.

Professor Zong Yongqiang, Department of Earth Sciences, was introducing the displays of “Cenozoic Climate Change”.

A fossil of an ancient rhinoceros found in Linxia basin, north of the Tibetan Plateau.

A ca. 100000-year-old loess sample (left) and a 17 million-year-old frog fossil are paleoclimate proxies to reveal past climatic conditions.