The team’s work will benefit the Northeast Greenland Caves Project. The project, in which the mission is to “explore, survey, photograph, and sample caves of Northeast Greenland for the purpose of climate-change research,” first came to Moseley’s attention in 2007, when some of her friends at a caving club in Bristol, England, alerted her to the existence of these particular caves. As an athlete and cave enthusiast, Moseley has always been drawn to the physical challenge of exploring caves, a love that grew since she began caving at the age of twelve.
“I loved it!” she says of her early caving experience. “That love developed throughout university, eventually prompting me to pursue a Ph.D. in Cave Science.”
The combination of the two disciplines — caving and the science around it — allowed her to take part in research projects across the globe, such as studying landscape evolution in Borneo, collaborating on hurricane projects, and dating meteorites.
Moseley’s current work at the Innsbruck Quaternary Research Group spurred her to undertake this new adventure with the Northeast Greenland Caves Project. Intrigued with this region’s caves, Moseley began assembling a team to explore and research the area.
She explains that it will be the first record of the past lives of these caves.
“Though we have excellent records of climate change from the Greenland ice cores, those records only go back around 128,000 years,” Moseley says.
The focus of the Caves Project, she says, “should complement those ice cores, and might push our record of climate change back even farther. Analyzing the deposits in the caves will give us a picture of when the climate was warmer and wetter.”
It is Moseley’s hope that the project will yield “an analog for future climate change.”
The Northeast Greenland Caves Project will be fully human-powered; the team isn’t using a helicopter drop off to reach their destination. Instead, they will trek over miles of glacial moraines and explore areas surrounding the caves, which involves walking over shattered ice fields.
Like any high-stakes project, Moseley admits she has her doubts.
“I’m nervous about failing,” she says. “I really want this to come off!”
At the same time, Moseley has expectations that the samples she gathers will be useful, regardless of whether they teach something new about climate change or not.
“It’s science,” she says. “If we don’t try, we won’t get anywhere.”
If Moseley’s optimism is any indication, this trip will be one to watch.
“People who are interested in climate science might have their eyes opened to the adventure side of things, and want to try something new,” she says. “If we can get people interested in climate change through our expedition, we’d call that a big success.”
. . .
Follow Gina Moseley and the Northeast Greenland Caves Project at:
- Online: http://northeastgreenlandcavesproject.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NortheastGreenlandCavesProject
- Instagram: @negreenland_caves
- Twitter: @Greenland_Caves
- and National Geographic for their coverage of the expedition
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