Human geographies of sea ice: freeze/thaw processes around Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • ABSTRACTSea ice has been, and continues to be, an integral component of life in the Inuit community of Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Located in a fiord of the same name off the northeastern end of Cumberland Sound, extensive ice formation occurs within the fiord and the sound. This creates an important travel and hunting platform, and enables access to the coastlines of Cumberland Sound, hunting and fishing grounds, and nearby communities. With the combined importance, dynamism, and continuous use of this frozen ocean environment, local Inuit elders and hunters have developed a detailed and nuanced understanding of sea ice conditions, freeze/thaw processes, and the influences of winds and currents on ice conditions. Working collaboratively with the community of Pangnirtung since September 2003, we present the results of 30 semi-directed interviews, 5 sea ice trips, and 2 focus groups to provide a baseline understanding of local freezing processes (near-shore, open water, sea ice thickening, landfast ice, tidal cracks, and the floe edge), melting processes (snow melt, water accumulation and drainage, and break-up), wind influences on sea ice (wind direction and strength affecting sea ice formation and movement), and, current influences on sea ice (tidal variations and current strength affecting sea ice formation, movement, and polynya size/location). Strong emphasis is placed on Inuktitut terminology and spatial delineations of localised ice conditions and features. Therefore, this paper provides insights into local scale ice conditions and dynamics around Pangnirtung that are not captured in regional scale studies of Cumberland Sound and/or Davis Strait. As the third in a series of three papers on the same subject, but from different communities in the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) Region of Nunavut, this paper also provides a comparative summary of Inuktitut and scientific sea ice terminology along with an overview of the broader implications of results for collaborative science, education, and heritage initiatives.

publication date

  • October 2008

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