Climate Report from ‘The Land That Never Melts’
by Bill Chameides | August 13th, 2010
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)
Travels with TheGreenGrok — The latest dispatch in a series on interesting places my deanly duties are whisking me off to.
You don’t need a climate scientist to which know which way the
Scientists say [pdf] that we live in a warming world; they have concluded that “warming is unequivocal.” Scientists say that the amount of warming is unprecedented for at least the last 1,000 years and perhaps for the last 1,500 years or more. But there are those who question these conclusions; they don’t trust the data or the methods scientists use to calculate global trends from the data. Some don’t even trust the scientists and question their motives.
Such attitudes don’t make sense to me, but then I’m a scientist so I guess my opinion would not carry much weight among the skeptics.
But hey, if you don’t want to take my word for it, how about the word of non-scientists who have seen the climate change before their eyes? Which non-scientists, you ask. I present for your edification two non-scientists from northern Canada — Billy Arnaquq and Robert Joamie.
Our last stops on our way to Greenland were at the town of Pangnirtung (population about 1,300) and the neighboring Auyuittuq National Park, both located on Baffin Island just south of the Arctic Circle. (See map below.)
Auyuittuq is an Inuktitut word meaning “the land that never melts,” and according to the locals, it has always been called that because of its many glaciers.
It’s a name that no longer quite fits because the park is now a land that is not only melting but melting faster and faster. Says who? Billy.
Billy, a resident of Pangnirtung who has lived in the area his whole life, was the chief guide on our visit to the park.
Like his ancestors, who he claims have lived here for the past 4,000 years, he feels a very strong connection to the land of Baffin Island.
And he knows his homeland; it’s a knowledge that is informed by a tradition that hands down the history of people and place by word of mouth from one generation to the next.
Billy is not a climate scientist, but he can tell you that his “land that never melts” is melting.
Our guide Robert, who grew up in the area, co-starred with Jason Scott Lee in Map of the Human Heart, a 1993 movie about a chartist who falls in love while on assignment to map uncharted regions of the Arctic. Robert, now back in Pangnirtung serving as a guide, says he’s seen climate change first-hand.
Glaciers that his mother says used to be permanent fixtures on the mountaintops are now gone. The Barnes Ice Cap — one of a pair of massive glaciers in the park thought to be the last remnants of the Laurentide glacier [pdf] that covered all of Canada and much of the northern United States during the Ice Age — is melting, and melting at an ever faster rate.
“A few years ago the glacier was receding one or two meters a year,” Billy explains. “Now it’s melting five or more meters each year.”
During our hike in the park, I pointed to a shiny glacier atop a nearby mountain, and Billy shook his head.
“That one’s going fast,” he said. “You can forget about that one.”
Our other guide Robert is not a climate scientist either, but he knows the climate is changing. He remembers when wintertime temperatures would go below -40 or even -45 Celsius. “Now it never gets below -35 Celsius around here.”
You might say he’s an eyewitness.
“It’s climate change,” he says, not knowing that he doesn’t need to convince me.
The polls tell us that there are lots of folks out there who reject the scientific evidence and refuse to accept that the globe is warming.
I have yet to meet a person in these parts who has any doubt about climate change. Because they know something is happening and they know what it is: the climate times are a’ changing.filed under: Arctic, climate change, faculty, global warming, temperatures, travel
and: Baffin Island, Canada, climate skeptics, from Auyuittuq National Park, glaciers, Laurentide glacier, Pangnirtung