Scheckler spends July of each year close to the top of the world, on Ellesmere Island next to the top of Greenland and on nearby Melville Island, where the sun shines 24 hours a day. Scheckler and his co-researchers are locating and collecting fossils for studies with James Basinger, head of geological sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. Through loan from that university, Scheckler obtains some of the fossils for his and his students' research. "It is important to study the Arctic because, climatically, it will change the most and that change will influence the rest of the planet in an accelerating way," he said.
Even when it is summer, the ground is permanently frozen, thawing only six inches deep at its warmest. Because the area is remote and desolate, no one can go alone, and the scientists must contact base twice a day or search parties will start looking for them. They live near a source of water, in tents, and store perishables in the thawed permafrost, hoping the foxes, wolves, and bears dont get them. They never leave camp without a gun because of polar bears, but cannot shoot unless their lives are in imminent danger.
The scientists walk or travel by all-terrain vehicles 10 or more miles from camp daily to hammer out and bring back ancient fossils that sometimes resemble parsley or dill or fern, but look odd because the leaves are small and dissected. The researchers look mainly along rivers that have eroded the permafrost back, exposing the fossils.