“Josh Reuther opens the heavy door to the artifact repository at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s Museum of the North. Reuther is a professor of archeology and a curator at the museum, he says over the past few years the museum has been getting more artifacts that are more deteriorated than those excavated decades ago.
He says that’s mostly due to climate change.
Friesen is working on a dig near the MacKenzie River Delta, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
“It’s kind of a whole series of problems coming together at the same time to sort of create a perfect storm,” he said.
“You have the potential melting of the permafrost, you have sea level rise, you have in some cases changing weather patterns.”
Friesen and other archeologists are alarmed by the rapid deterioration of organic artifacts excavated in the Arctic. Those artifacts, made of materials like wood or animal hides, were until recently abundant at digs around the region, because they’d been preserved in permafrost or silty soils.
“It’s a very rich data base that’s being lost all across the Arctic,” he said.”