Ancient Arctic Forests Project

As ice melts in the Arctic regions ancient forests are uncovered that existed at the very tip of the world in Northern Canada, Greenland and Europe, right up to the North Pole millions of years ago. These forests existed  before the ice age when the climate was warmer and the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were much higher. Unfossilized wood remains have been discovered in areas of northern Canada. I’m interested in the memory of this wood, what it can tell us about the past and what we can expect as our trees move north into the future. Thanks to Dr. Joel Barker and Dr. James Bassinger, I got my hands on some of this wood to scientifically analyze and use as a stepping off point for a larger project…..seeing into the future. I am fortunate to work with brilliant thinkers on this project including: James Bassinger (geologist, University of Saskatchewan), Joel Barker (biogeochemist, Ohio State University), Anna Jacobson (anatomist, California State-Bakersfield), Bradon Pratt(ecophysiologist, California State-Bakersfield) and Maciej Zwieniecki (ecophysiologist, University of California, Davis).


Image Credit: Anna Jacobson (Microscopy)





Fluorescence microscopy of 45 million-year-old Cupressaceae wood.  Image Credit: Anna Jacobson

Sample of wood being ready to be scanned by x-rays using  high resolution computed tomography (Micro-HRCRT).

Microscopy of 5 million-year-old (Pliocence) Betulaceae wood.  Image Credit: Anna Jacobson