Indigenous knowledge and observations of current trends

Snow characteristics are changing, and there is more freezing rain. Changes in snow and ice characteristics are widely reported. Changing wind patterns cause the snow to be hard packed; hunters and travel parties are thus unable to build igloos, which are still commonly relied upon for temporary and emergency shelters. Injuries and deaths have been attributed to sudden storms and those involved not being able to find good snow with which to build shelters. More freezing rain and increasing frequency of freeze-thaw cycles are affecting the ability of reindeer, caribou, musk ox, and other wildlife to find food in winter, which in turn affects the Indigenous Peoples who depend upon these animals.

  • "There used to be different layers of snow back then. The wind would not blow as hard, not make the snow as hard as it is now… It's really hard to make shelters with that kind of snow because it’s usually way too hard right down to the ground." T. Qaqimat, Baker Lake, Canada, 2001
  • "Change has been so dramatic that during the coldest month of the year, the month of December 2001, torrential rains have fallen in the Thule region so much that there appeared a thick layer of solid ice on top of the sea ice and the surface of the land… which was very bad for the paws of our sled dogs." Uusaqqak Qujaukitsoq, Qaanaaq, Greenland, 2002
  • "It used to be that there would be proper freezing which would dry the lichen and the snow would fall on top. There would be rain that would form the bottom, which would then freeze properly. Now it rains, and the bottom freezes wet, and this is bad for the reindeers. It ruins the lichen. Ice is everywhere and the reindeer cannot get through. This has meant death to a number of reindeers because they cannot get to the lichen." Niila Nikodemus, 86, the oldest reindeer herder in Purnumukka, Finland, 2002
  • "First it snows, then it melts, like it would be summertime. And this all over again. First there is a big snowfall, then it warms up and then it freezes. During winter now it can rain, as happened last New Year. Before it never rained during wintertime. Rain in the middle of winter? To the extent that snow disappears? Yes, it is true. Rain, and snow melts!" Vladimir Lifov, Lovozero, Russia, 2002

Source & © ACIA Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment  (2004),
 Key Finding #8, p.96

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Indigenous knowledge and observations of current trends

Indigenous knowledge and observations of current trends

Indigenous knowledge and observations of current trends