Best Job Ever: Exploring Super-Remote Caves in Greenland

Gina Moseley poses for scale in the only passage inside the largest and longest cave the team worked inside during their expedition.

Gina Moseley loves caves. She started caving for sport when she was 13 years old, and now she’s in it for science. Moseley is a geologist and National Geographic grantee who traveled to a remote region of northeast Greenland to conduct climate-change research. She is constructing the first cave-based record of past climate change for Greenland.

The climate record is created by analyzing the chemical signature of each layer in a calcite core, much like tree rings. The calcite stalagmites form when water seeps through soil and limestone and drips into a cave. Because the drip waters were once connected with the atmosphere and Earth’s surface, information about temperature, moisture, and vegetation get locked into the cave deposit, drip by drip and layer by layer. By analyzing the carbon and oxygen content of the cores, Moseley will be able to reconstruct the region’s climate between 200,000 and 500,000 years ago— older than the current limit of Greenland ice cores.

Gina Moseley poses for scale in the only passage inside the largest and longest cave the team worked inside during their expedition.

A four-person team joined Moseley to explore, survey, photograph, and sample caves. “None of us had been to the Arctic before,” Moseley said. “This was the first time for all of us. We really had to think long and hard before we went, about what might go wrong and just to make sure we had enough time to do what we needed to do. It took two years of planning.”

To begin the expedition, Moseley and the team were dropped off by plane. The closest people were 160 kilometers (99 miles) away. “When we stood there, it felt like a dream come true but also completely unrealistic. We really felt alone and like explorers.” The team walked for three days from —> Read More

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