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Bridging Perspectives from Remote Sensing and Inuit Communities on Changing Sea Ice Cover in the Baffin Bay Region


Objective

To combine observations from remote sensing with observations and knowledge of Inuit who live in the Baffin Bay region

Collaborators

Walt Meier, Julienne Stroeve, and Shari Gearheard

Project Summary

Passive microwave imagery indicates a decreasing trend in Arctic summer sea ice extent since 1979. The past four summers, 2002-2005, have exhibited particularly reduced extent and have reinforced the downward trend. Even the winter periods have now shown decreasing trends. At the local level, Arctic residents are noticing changes in sea ice as well. In particular, indigenous elders and hunters report changes such as earlier breakup, later freeze-up, and thinner ice. The changing conditions have profound implications for Arctic-wide climate, but there is also regional variability in the extent trends. These can have important ramifications for wildlife and indigenous communities in the affected regions. Here we bring together observations from remote sensing with observations and knowledge of Inuit who live in the Baffin Bay region. Weaving the complimentary perspectives of science and Inuit knowledge, we investigate the processes driving changes in Baffin Bay sea ice extent and discuss the present and potential effects of changing sea ice on local activities.

Sea ice concentration and extent anomaly charts for Baffin Bay during July 2002 to 2005
Sea ice concentration and extent anomaly charts for Baffin Bay during July 2002 to 2005. There is much less ice overall, and where ice remains, it is generally at a lower concentration level. The anomalies extend from the onset of melt in March through freeze-up in October. Melt onset is occurring earlier and freeze-up later. These changes are having a significant impact on Inuit livelihood.

Related Resources

None

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