Climate change and food security in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

2010 June 1

Goldhar, C. and Ford, J. Chapter in: Smit et al (eds) Climate change vulnerability and adaption in Arctic regions, Springer. Find PDF.

This chapter presents results from an exploratory study of food system vulnerability in the municipality of Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, characterizing the exposure-sensitivities and adaptive capacity of the food system to stressors associated with climate and climate change in the context of changing livelihoods. The ability of community members to access culturally relevant foods of sufficient quantity and quality is discussed within the context of social, economic, political and environmental change in Greenland. The Qeqertarsuaq food system was found to be particularly sensitive to climate variability and change through the dependence of many residents on subsistence livelihoods and the isolated location of the community, leading to often unpredictable store food shipments. Recent warming has been linked to a reduction in sea ice extent with noticeable changes in the availability of harp seals, and the migration of eider duck populations. The effects of these exposures on food system vulnerability in Qeqertarsuaq are mediated by the role of food sharing and trading in the community, hunter support programs, knowledge gained through the experience of previous climate variability, and the presence of a diverse food system including both traditional and store food sectors- all factors that strengthen adaptive capacity.
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