In the remote Arctic village of Puvirnituq, in Northern Quebec, just south of Baffin Island, they know a good deal more than most about global warming, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (27/5/2006, p.23).
Spring has come ever earlier for 6 years; igloos collapse: In April they experienced temperatures normal for June, and visiting Canadian officials there to discuss climate change were forced to decamp to a tent when their igloo collapsed in the heat. Spring has been arriving in the area earlier and earlier for the past six years.
Inuit way of life built on icy climate: Mario Aubin, of the Nunavik Arctic Survival Centre in Puvirnituq, has spent most of his life with the Inuit and knows the cost of the shorter winters. “Pack ice to the white man seems like a barrier, something to fear. But to the Inuit it is their highway. It’s their communication system, their freedom, their livelihood, their independence.”
5 months of igloo weather down to 6 weeks: When the survival school started six years ago, Mr Aubin could guarantee clients five months of winter cold enough to build igloos. Now there are only six weeks – from mid-January. "I had to cancel a course actually inside the Arctic Circle this March because there wasn’t enough ice.”
Changing landscape forces difficult adaptation: In Inukjuak when the caribou arrive, or in lvujivik when the beluga whales appear in the bay, they hunt, lessons or no lessons. But now the landscape is changing so rapidly it is difficult to see how they can adapt.
Arctic ice 40pc thinner; 1m square km melted in 30 yrs: In the past three decades, more than 1 million square kilometres of sea ice has melted. It is also now 40 per cent thinner. Arctic air temperatures are warmer than they have been for 400 years.
Greenland melting at more than twice 1996 rate: Last year the melting Greenland ice sheet deposited 224 cubic kilometres of ice into the ocean. In 1996 it was 90 cubic kilometres.
Unpredictable climate carries risk of death: But the people of Nunavik are not just describing climate change, but climate disruption. “It isn’t just that it is warmer,” Mr Aubin said. “It’s the unpredictable nature of the weather now. We can go out hunting or fishing inland in March and find it’s too warm to build an igloo, so we put up a tent and then the temperature suddenly drops again and we could freeze to death.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, 27/5/2006, p. 23
Source: Erisk Net