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An Integrated Investigation of Coupled Human and Sea Ice Systems: A Comparison of Changing Environments and their Uses in the North American Arctic

NSFThis project is funded by NSF OPP grant 0308493


To investigate the dynamics of the coupled systems of Inuit and Inupiat hunters and shorefast or drifting sea ice in the context of environmental change


Roger Barry is the PI, and James Maslanik and Shari Gearheard are Co-PIs.

Project Summary

Inuit and Inupiat hunters in the North American Arctic rely on sea ice for travel and hunting for much of the year. Their use of the ice requires detailed knowledge of ice conditions for both safety and success in hunting, their main livelihood.The sea ice environment in the Arctic is changing, however. Studies of sea ice characteristics from scientific and indigenous knowledge perspectives have found major changes in the extent and thickness of the Arctic ice pack as well as local and regional changes in certain characteristics like the thickness, stability, and dates of formation of the shorefast ice used by hunters. As a result, Inuit and Inupiat communities are making changes to their day-to-day and long-term livelihood strategies and are dealing with traditional knowledge and skills that are, at times, no longer applicable. At the same time, scientists struggle to understand the interactions of the forces influencing sea ice changes and variations of change at multiple scales. How can these two groups inform each other and benefit from collaboration on this topic of mutual concern? A multidisciplinary team of investigators will collaborate with the communities of Barrow, Alaska, and Clyde River, Nunavut, to carry out this investigation.

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