Interactive maps show decades of climate change effects in Nunavut communities

“Many of the communities are warming quite a bit faster than the global average,” says researcher Scott Dallimore

New maps released by the United Nations show climate change data specific to communities across Nunavut and Canada’s Arctic. (Screenshot: Coastal and Offshore Permafrost in a Changing Arctic)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Want to see how quickly Canada’s Arctic coastline is warming? There’s a map for that.

The United Nations Environment Programme recently released an expansive study that collates 70 years’ worth of data on the region. Instead of a dense report, it’s presented in interactive videos and maps.

“Someone living in Pond Inlet can actually go to Pond Inlet (on the map) and they can see how fast Pond Inlet is warming compared to other sites,” said Scott Dallimore, research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada, and lead researcher on the study.

“You won’t find that anywhere else.”

Over the past 30 to 50 years, Arctic coastal areas have warmed two to four times faster than the rest of the world, on average, said Dallimore.

For example, Eureka, a research base on Nunavut’s Ellesmere Island, has warmed about 4 C, compared to the global average of 1 C over the same time period.

Pond Inlet warmed by about 2.5 C and Iqaluit warmed by about 2 C .

The study, which was released on Oct. 13, notes these findings align with observations by Arctic peoples who have noticed later freeze-up of the land and ocean and earlier breakup of river, lake and sea ice.

The project includes a crowdsourced map for northerners to add their own observations.

People can also explore how Arctic coastlines have changed over the years.

More than 20 coastal communities in northwestern Canada and Alaska have been declared threatened by coastal erosion, according to the study. That’s because the coastline there is sandy and more prone to landslides and erosion.

The coastline study doesn’t focus on much of Nunavut, because the territory’s coastlines aren’t eroding and sea levels are dropping, said Dallimore.

“There’s actually more coastline being produced over time, not less,” he said.

Mercury a “looming issue”

The researchers also tracked permafrost melt. It’s believed to be a big driver of global warming because as the ice melts, greenhouse gasses that have been trapped in the Earth get released into the atmosphere.

It can also release heavy metals like mercury as it melts, which can enter the food chain.

“It’s a looming issue,” said Dallimore.

The researcher encouraged kids, university students and researchers to explore the maps and for northerners to contribute to the crowdsourced map themselves.

“There’s much more of a strong will to have northerners engaged at all levels of the science,” he said, adding that consulting Indigenous peoples in science needs to be more than asking permission to conduct a study, but to co-operate at all levels, and study what is important to them.

“This is a way to give northerners something that’s tangible, that they can explore on their own and learn from.”

The Coastal and Offshore Permafrost in a Changing Arctic was released about a month ago and was a collaboration between the United Nations Environment Programme, Environment Canada and GRID-Arendal, a program based in Norway.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Frank Sterle Jr. on

    Our existence has for too long been analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable traditionally marginalized person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line.

    Many of them further fight over to whom amongst them should go the last piece of quality pie and how much should they have to pay for it—all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined, owned and operated by (besides the most wealthy) the fossil fuel industry, is burning and toxifying at locations not normally investigated.

    And the latter is allowed to occur, because blue-shirted liberals and red-hatted conservatives are preoccupied loudly blasting each other for their politics and beliefs thus distracting attention from big business’s moral and ethical corruption, where it should be focused.

    Meanwhile, mindless arguments are made, like the stupid-sounding catchphrase, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

    In short, we’re distracting ourselves from our own burning and heavily polluting spaceship, Earth

    There’s discouragingly insufficient political gonad to sufficiently address the cause-and-effect of manmade global warming and climate change.

    What is sufficiently universal, however, is that the laborers are simply too exhausted and preoccupied with just barely feeding and housing their families on a substandard, if not below the poverty line, income to criticize the former for the great damage it’s doing to our planet’s natural environment and therefore our health, particularly when that damage may not be immediately observable.

    • Posted by Rob McWilliam on

      Wise words, Frank. The time wasted on rhetoric and endless arguing is noted by many. Just like the issue of clean drinking water, what we need is action, not posturing. Leaders, not talkers.

  2. Posted by Brent Beam on

    One thing for sure is that the abusive Trudeau carbon tax on Canadians who release approx 1.5% of global carbon emissions will do nothing to avert human caused climate change. Clearly Trudeau and his Liberals believe that too or he’d clamp down on the Liberal use of government jets for unnecessary government activities. Perhaps the UN and world govt’s could get serious about regulating human population growth globally and govt’s that fail to control the destruction of carbon sinking forests especially the tropical ones with their extraordinary species diversity. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening. As a species we are in trouble…and I doubt politicians such as Trudeau are going to change that with an ineffective carbon tax…but he will try to convince us as average citizens that lowering our standard of living( while maintaining or enhancing his own ,his familys , political and business elites) with a carbon tax using his control of most of the Canadian media.

    • Posted by High beams on

      I’d suggest you do a little bit more research about carbon tax, your comments unfortunately is quite narrow and simplistic and for most of us that have researched the use of carbon tax think comments like this more people don’t really understand why it’s there and spew false or half truths about it.

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