PoLAR-FIT: Pliocene landscapes and arctic remains-frozen in time

J. C. Gosse, A. P. Ballantyne, J. D. Barker, A. Z. Csank, T. L. Fletcher, G. W. Grant, D. R. Greenwood, R. D.E. MacPhee, N. Rybczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This short summary presents selected results of an ongoing investigation into the feedbacks that contribute to amplified Arctic warming. The consequences of warming for Arctic biodiversity and landscape response to global warmth are currently being interpreted. Arctic North American records of largescale landscape and paleoenvironmental change during the Pliocene are exquisitely preserved and locked in permafrost, providing an opportunity for paleoenvironmental and faunal reconstruction with unprecedented quality and resolution. During a period of mean global temperatures only ~2.5°C above modern, the Pliocene molecular, isotopic, tree-ring, paleofaunal, and paleofloral records indicate that the High Arctic mean annual temperature was 11-19°C above modern values, pointing to a much shallower latitudinal temperature gradient than exists today. It appears that the intense Neogene warming caused thawing and weathering to liberate sediment and create a continuous and thick (>2.5 km in places) clastic wedge, from at least Banks Island to Meighen Island, to form a coastal plain that provided a highway for camels and other mammals to migrate and evolve in the High Arctic. In this summary, we highlight the opportunities that exist for research on these and related topics with the PoLAR-FIT community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalGeoscience Canada
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
PoLAR-FIT is grateful for the outstanding logistic support provided throughout the Canadian Arctic by the Polar Continental Shelf Program and in-kind support for accessing these sites. Without their professionalism and efficiency, our discoveries and knowledge growth could not be possible. We also thank the Canadian Museum of Nature for the past and recent support of critical research and meeting space, field equipment, and funding for research by members of their Arctic program. PoLAR-FIT members have benefited from financial support from Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant Program and NSERC-Northern Research Supplement Program, and the USA National Science Foundation. Special thanks to W. Garfield Weston Foundation for funding NR, a Post-doctoral Fellowship to TL, and a Graduate Student Fellowship to a past student; the National Geographic Society, who have provided field funding for NR and TF; and Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre, Ohio State University Office of International Affairs, Geologic Society of America, the Columbus Rock and Mineral Society and the individual donors for their field funding for GG. Most significantly, we thank the northern hamlets of Resolute Bay (Qausuittuq), Grise Fiord (Aujuittuq), Sachs Harbour (Ikahuak), and Holman (Ulukhaqtuuq) and their Hunting and Trapping Committees for supporting our research over the past two decades. We hope past and future PoLAR-FIT landscape and climate research will be directly useful to their communities. We thank D. Froese for comments that improved an earlier version of this manuscript, and T. Bell, J. England, and A. Kerr for reviews which significantly improved its readability.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 GAC/AGC®.


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