Climate change and hazards associated with ice use in Northern Canada

2008 December 8

Ford, J., Pearce, T., Gilligan, J. Smit, B., Oakes, J. (2008). Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 40(4), 647-659. Find PDF.

Research conducted with the communities of Igloolik, Ulukhaktok, and Churchill in northern Canada documents increasing exposure to hazards associated with ice use for hunting and travel. This trend is related to changing ice conditions. Instrumental records show later ice freeze-up and earlier breakup since the late 1970s, increasing temperatures, and changes in weather in the case study communities. Elders and mature community members, drawing upon their traditional knowledge, describe similar changes in ice and other climate-related conditions in recent years. These changes are increasing the risks of utilizing the ice for hunting and travel and they are reducing access to traditional food. Change in risk-taking behavior among users of the ice has also been documented in Igloolik and Ulukhaktok over the last few decades and has shaped the implications of more recent changes in ice conditions. Comparison between the communities reveals uneven consequences of changing ice conditions which is linked to the nature of ice use, local physiological setting, and community socio-cultural dynamics.

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