Baffin Island is part of Canada and lies just west of Greenland. It is the fifth largest island in the world and sits almost entirely north of the Arctic Circle.
During the long winters temperatures reach as low as -40 °C. Summers last just two months and the temperature rarely goes above freezing.
This means field scientists only have a few weeks in late July and early August to do their work. Come any earlier and you get eaten by mosquitos: come later and you are inundated by the first "winter" snows.
I arrived on Baffin Island at the end of July 2014. The helicopter dropped me at our field camp on top of a 400m cliff, and then disappeared into the distance. I stood there mesmerised by the emerald blue fjords below me, punctuated by fragments of sparkling sea ice.
As I waited for my colleagues to return to camp, I mused on what I would do if a polar bear strolled over the horizon. We often shared this thought over the next few weeks. We were hundreds of miles from civilisation with only our feet to guide us, totally at the mercy of the natural world.
The Borden Peninsula on Baffin's north coast contains billion-year-old sedimentary rocks, made up of ancient shallow-water reefs and deep-ocean shale deposits. They hold fossils of some of the earliest forms of life. We were there to study them so that we could piece together the story of what happened on the early Earth.
We spent our days tramping through the tundra, looking for steep valleys and cliffs where we could scan the rocks for evidence of past oceans, reefs and beaches.
It was the Arctic summer so days were long. Each day we explored the wilderness for over 12 hours, then returned to camp for meals of rehydrated food similar to that which astronauts eat. I don't recommend them, but after a long day of hiking anything tastes good.
Everything was going to plan until the first winter snows came – in mid-August. The helicopter was unable to reach us and work was impossible, so we spent 5 days in camp playing cards.
Each day we hoped for a break in the clouds so that we could turn on the satellite phone and get a weather forecast from the helicopter pilot. But 5 days went by with no change in the weather.
Every hour of the night someone was on polar bear watch. The brief summer months are when polar bears come onto land to hunt. The Arctic sea ice is shrinking due to climate change, so they are venturing ever further inland. We saw many polar bear tracks on Baffin Island, but thankfully they never paid us a visit.
When the weather finally cleared, the helicopter took us back to the nearest Inuit town, Pond Inlet. This was a welcome reprieve, as all 6 of us had been stuck in one small tent for 5 days.
As we were sitting on the clifftop waiting for the helicopter, we noticed a small Inuit hunting camp on the shores of Milne Inlet below. We watched them chase down narwhals, the "unicorns of the sea", as they came up for air. To us it was a sad sight, but it is their way of life and we were in no position to judge their hunting practices.
We spent our time in Pond Inlet playing with Inuit children and being told tales of polar bears and winter storms by Inuit elders. Thanks to the bad weather we hadn't got much work done, so we had to wait for a break in the weather to move to our next field camp.
The stories we heard from people in town had a familiar ring. Sailors, filmmakers, government workers and local Inuit all talked of strange weather patterns and dangerous iceberg-filled waters. These are all indicators of a changing, unstable climate.
We waited 6 days in Pond Inlet for the helicopter to fly us out to our next camp. The flight was interrupted by a search for a missing boat, which luckily we found safe and sound.
At camp we only managed to do one day's work before more bad weather rolled in, forcing us to fly home.
It was disappointing, but working in areas like this remains fascinating. You become addicted to the feeling of being alone in the wilderness, unlocking clues to the way the Earth was shaped.
Vivien Cumming is on Twitter @drvivcumming and Instagram @drvivcumming