NSFGEO-NERC Collaborative Research: Environmental change and impacts on prehistoric human colonization of Peary Land, northernmost Greenland

Lead Research Organisation: British Antarctic Survey


The goal of this project is to understand changes and interactions among arctic system components (climate, people, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, sea-ice and glacier extent) in Peary Land, north of the Greenland Ice Sheet, where people with stone tool technology managed to survive for prolonged periods during the past ~4500 years. We propose to produce multi-proxy high resolution, quantitative records of climate and vegetation from lake sediments, and to examine the persistence of polynyas along the coast, where marine mammals congregate, using high-resolution model simulations. Paleoenvironmental records will be coupled with new archaeological data generated from a field mapping campaign to comprehensively survey sites and a program to radiocarbon date existing archeological materials to improve the chronology of human activities in the region. We will explore the extent to which periods of settlement and times of abandonment were related to climatic fluctuations that affected the availability of terrestrial and marine resources, which were essential for survival in this very remote region. The target region is considered as a model to consider the nexus of climate change, resource availability, and human response in a paleo context-- issues that still resonate today throughout the Arctic.


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