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This project is funded by NSF grant 0624344
To conduct an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural study of the dynamic relationship between humans and sea ice.
Shari Gearheard is the PI; Roger Barry and Henry Huntington are Co-PIs; Andy Mahoney, Ilkoo Angutikjuak, Joelie Sanguya, Igah Sanguya, Geela Tigullaraq, Toku Oshima, Mamarut Kristiansen, Qaerngaaq Nielsen, Warren Matumeak, Joe Leavitt, and Nancy Leavit are Co-Investigators.
This project is also referred to as "Siku-Inuit-Hila" (Sea ice, people, and weather). The research team includes social and physical scientists and members of each community: Barrow (Alaska), Clyde River (Nunavut) and Qaanaaq (Greenland). The project relies heavily on fieldwork conducted by the whole team in each community. Comparisons of sea ice use and changes are the focus of workshops and field excursions. The team will also establish ice monitoring stations, which are monitored by local observers to record the ice growth and melt cycle at key locations for each community.
In recent years, Arctic sea ice has been thinning, retreating, and changing its patterns of freeze up and break up. For many indigenous communities in the Arctic, sea ice use and human-sea ice relationships that are deeply rooted in time, as well as identity, are being challenged. There is an urgent need for scientists, decision makers, and others to better understand the human and social dynamics surrounding Arctic sea ice change, what is at stake for coastal communities, and what the responses might be. Using the unique approach of an international, multidisciplinary, and multicultural "sea ice knowledge exchange," the investigators, in partnership with indigenous sea ice experts (hunters and Elders) from three regions of the Arctic (Barrow, Alaska; Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada; and Qaanaaq, Greenland), will conduct a comparative study across these three communities. Bringing together traditional knowledge, science, and methods from social sciences (e.g. interviews; participatory observation) and physical science (e.g. analysis of remote sensing imagery and meteorological data), the research team will examine the following:
The results of the research will
The study expands on issues identified by the international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA 2005) and will contribute to the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008.
View "Inuit Isaannit Silaannaq," a 2007 video documentary by Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa-TV (Greenland National Broadcasting Company) about the "Siku-Inuit-Hila" project and Gearheard's and Mahoney's fieldwork in Greenland. (In Greenlandic; interviews with Gearheard and Mahoney are in English)
Download a copy of "A Change in the Weather," an article about Shari Gearheard's research in Nunavut, featured in the February 2008 issue of Natural History magazine. (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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