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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Bottled Arctic Notes

Bottled Arctic Notes

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, December 15, 2017/Categories: natural history, marine life, sustainability, environment, adventure , climate change, Archive Pick of the Week

                                     Ward Hunt Island Expedition, 1959 (credit: Wikicommons)

You've read stories about a guy stranded on a desert island tossing a note in a bottle into the ocean hoping to be rescued. It's not obvious that a similar bottled note might alert the future about climate change in the Arctic.

In 1959, two Canadian researchers, Albert Crary and Paul Walker, were on an expedition exploring Ward Hunt Island in the high Arctic. They finished their glacial measurements, built a rock cairn, wrote a note describing the environmental conditions there, and put the message into a bottle with instructions for anyone who might find it in the future. They asked the future discoverer to record changes they observed now and mail any new measurements to designated addresses.

Ward Hunt Island Expedition (credit: Wikicommons) and 1959 Arctic Message (Laval University, Canada)
It would be 54 years before the rock cairn and protected message was rediscovered and changes to the glaciated landscape, if any, were recorded. The letter was discovered by a research team led by Warwick Vincent, a Laval University biologist, retrieved it. In the intervening years, Ward Hunt glacier had receded more than 325 feet. The original glaciologists had anticipated climate change long before the term was know or recognized.

IN 1959, who thought about climate change and the stories tha ice might tell us about the past, present, and future. The two young explorers had left a bottled message and a warning of what was to come.



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