Climate Change - A Reality in Canada’s Arctic
Climate change is here. There is no doubts about it. Humans have created it, are speeding it up (call it what you like) and it's affecting the Arctic at hyperspeeds. Changes in the past twenty years have been significant. Wildlife patterns, weather patterns, migration ranges - it's all changing.
Nasa's ice research indicates that the Arctic sea ice (The month of September has the lowest annual minimum circumpolar ice pack) is declining at a rate of 13.3% per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Since the 1970s, the circumpolar Arctic has lost an average of 53,900 square kilometers per year. The image below is a great example on the icepack lows of 2012 relative to the last 30 years.
On a localized level, we've noticed massive changes at Arctic Watch. (We've noticed less changes at Arctic Haven as we have been operating in that area for less than ten years). Migratory avian species such as sandhill cranes are increasing in abundance every summer, we're begining to notice mosquitoes (we never had mosquitoes until 3 years ago!) and we have more polar bear sightings every summer. Temperatures have increased drastically since we opened Arctic Watch's doors in 1999. In 2000, we recorded temperatures reaching average highs of +12 to + 15C. Over the past two seasons, we've begun to reach highs of +21C in July on the Northwest Passage!
Arctic Watch owner Richard Weber and his son Tessum Weber skied to the North Pole from Canada in 2010 - the 900km has only been sucessfully acheived once since due to the dwindling ice conditions! Two expeditions have attempted this year, with one having just pulled out due to poor conditions!
Tessum and Richard at the North Pole, April 2010.
Another great example is a satellite image taken March 8th, 2017 of Cunningham Inlet (circled in red, below) and the Northwest Passage (the body of water north of Cunningham Inlet). Early March is typically one of the coldest times of year - polar dawn is considered a period when the ice pack is typically at one of the thickest. This image shows large pans of pack ice floating through open water! This is far from a solid sheet of ice! In the 1980s, the ice was an average of two meters thick across the Northwest Passage in front of Cunningham Inlet!