Ohio State student hopes to travel to site of Canadian Arctic forest beneath the ice

(Photo: Dr. Joel Barker, OSU School of Earth Sciences)

COLUMBUS (WCMH)–An Ohio State student, George Grant, is working on gathering enough funding to make a unique trip to the Canadian Arctic in July, with a group of international climate scientists.

The goal is bring back deposits from an ancient boreal forest that is slowly being revealed in northeastern Canada on Ellesmere Island. The forest site thrived 3 to 5 million years ago, when the climate was considerably warmer and wetter in the Arctic, and climate zones had shifted far to the north.

Ohio State climate researcher Dr. Joel Barker first visited the area in 2009, and discovered mummified trees, insects and various nuts and seeds, which are now being analyzed in a laboratory at the Byrd Polar Climate and Research Center on campus.

Barker says that by studying the climate conditions when the forest existed, we can learn more about possible future changes, if temperatures warmed several more degrees worldwide.

Climate signals are preserved for thousands of years in wood that would have otherwise been ruined during petrification.