Past Climate of Ancient Forests on Banks Island
Principal Investigator: Johnson, Arthur (1)
Licence Number: 13455
Organization: University of Pennsylvania
Licenced Year(s): 2005 2003
Issued: Jun 20, 2003
Project Team: Christophe

Objective(s): Climate change predicted to occur over the next 50 to 100 years is expected to dramatically warm the arctic regions of Canada. Paleobotanical and geochemical evidence suggests that the Canadian Arctic was warmer in the past and understanding the magnitude of previous warming and its effect on terrestrial vegetation may provide insight into how the present day Arctic will respond to future climate change. Fossil wood in coal deposits at two sites on Banks Island provides an opportunity to determine the past climate of this arctic region. Established relationships between the stable isotope composition of modern plant alpha-cellulose and environmental variables such as temperature and precipitation will be used to estimate past temperature and precipitation regimes and categorize the type of climate under which the ancient plants of Banks Island grew. Researchers will collect samples of 3-5 million and 18 million-year old wood from two sites on Banks Island and analyze the alpha-cellulose stable oxygen isotope composition using IRMS-mass spectrometry. The data generated from samples collected on Banks Island will complement similar data collected previously from geologically older samples and aid in constructing a more detailed chronology of past climate change in the Canadian Arctic.