INSTAAR scientist Giff Miller has been traveling to Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, nearly every summer for more than 40 years. His team of researchers and students study the landscape and ice cap left from the Pleistocene, now rapidly melting.
This summer, they walked the margins of melting glaciers, looking for dead plants emerging from the ice. Buried since the beginning of the last ice age, they hold direct evidence of past climates. The plant remnants, remarkably preserved for tens of thousands of years, have given key evidence for recent major studies. Findings include:
- The first direct evidence that average summer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years were higher than during any century for the past 44,000 years and probably for the past 120,000 years.
- The recognition that the Little Ice Age began abruptly, between 1275 and 1300 A.D.
Most of the images are from photographer Matthew Kennedy of Earth Vision Trust, who accompanied the team to Baffin in summer 2013. Others are by the science team members. Together, this is what they saw.