Dust, winds and atmospheric records

We met for dinner in town tonight and had our first Science Cafe. This is a great idea where it allows different scientists to talk about different aspects of their research. Steve Hoven at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). His research focuses on using dust samples from the equatorial regions to better understand atmospheric sciences. By using dust samples he is able to recreate a geologic record of atmospheric wind patterns. Ultimately from his research and that of his peers, we are able to understand how strong the wind patterns were millions of years ago. During a non-glacial period, our trade winds are on average much slower than during glacial periods. I had never envisioned that oceanographic samples could be used to create a historical record of atmospheric winds. How else might one create this type of record?