You can admire a 40,000 years old scenery in the Arctic


Today, as a result of the retreat of glaciers In the Canadian Arctic, we can see landscapes that have been hidden under ice for over 40,000 years. This region may be experiencing one of the warmest periods in the last 115,000 years. This became known thanks to a study by scientists from the Boulder University of Colorado at Boulder.

You can admire a 40,000 years old scenery in the Arctic

More information about the results of the research can be found on the pages of the Nature Communications journal.

Specialists used radiocarbon dating. This allowed determining the age of plants that were collected at the edges of thirty ice caps on Baffin Island. Over the past 10 years, the climatic conditions on the island have undergone significant changes.

A well-known researcher at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research of the University of Colorado Boulder, Simon Pendleton explains:  “Today, the Arctic receives 2-3 times more heat than any other zone of our Planet. Because of this, the glaciers and ice begin to melt rapidly” 

Baffin Island is the 5th largest island on our Planet. There can be found a deeply incised fjords system separated by highland plateaus with low terrain.

The low temperature of the ice plateau creates something like a natural fridge that carefully preserves the oldest mosses and lichens in their original form for many centuries.

«We went to the retreating ice edges, studying only plants that have appeared from under the ice, which has been existed for a long time on these centuries-old landscapes. We identify the date of their appearance to determine the last time there was ice movement over this territory»Pendleton said

Last year, scientists were able to collect about 50 plant samples from 3 dozen different ice caps on the island. In addition, they took samples of quartz from all sites that will help in determining the age and history of the landscape’s ice crust. This was reported by reported.

All samples were processed and then underwent radiocarbon dating. As a result, scientists were able to determine that the plants found on all thirty ice caps were not always under the ice. They suggested that this period lasted at least 40,000 years.

Radiocarbon research was carried out not only in the laboratories of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder but also in the laboratories of the University in Irvine, California. However, the ice inevitably keeps retracting.

«Compared to biological life forms that have managed to adapt to the effects of global climate change over the past 3 billion years, this kind of “survival strategy” is simply not available in case of glaciers»Gifford Miller explained, a professor of geological sciences at CU-Boulder.

The obtained information regarding the temperature of the ice cores of Baffin Island and Greenland suggests that the last century is the warmest for this area  in the last 115,000 years.  This means that Baffin Island may completely lose its icy reserves in a relatively short period of time.

«Currently, the rate of climate warming is so high that everything keeps melting»Pendleton said.