Notes from the North

Day 4 — Cambridge Bay, August 17th, 2007

The InMER team has decided to stay in Cambridge Bay for two nights. Our latter than expected arrival from Gjoa Haven and the opportunity to get out on the land make this our best option. Also, the weather to the west is deteriorating slightly which makes our decision to stay the best use of our time.

We were fortunate to spend some significant time with the acting Senior Administrative Officer in the Cambridge Bay Hamlet, Derrick Anderson. Derrick has lived and Cambridge Bay for the last 15 years and has an unbridled passion for the Arctic. As we walked the beach over looking the bay Derrick shared many observations of change to this area of the Arctic. One change he described was the presence of Grizzly Bears crossing the passage and landing on the Island. His conversations with Elders and his own observations indicate this is a new phenomenon. He described the presence of Ravens in town, also something that has not been seen before. Wolverines, bumbles bees and mosquitoes all new to the island in recent times. He has a strong feeling of change that is occurring at a rapid pace.

Derrick also discussed how, as a community Cambridge Bay has been hoping to reduce its own carbon footprint. The hamlet is exploring alternative energy sources for electricity like wind and solar. The long windy Arctic winter and the 24 hours of sunlight in the summer make this an ideal combination. Cleary the Hamlet council and its staff are thinking about what they can do.

We have been able to get out on the Tundra at Cambridge. We were fortunate to see Arctic Hare, Rough-legged hawks, Ravens, Peregrine Falcons, White Faced Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and some Musk Ox. From a top Mount Pelly we had a wide vista of the tundra and the Northwest Passage. We also looked closely at the delicate flowers and moss at our feet. The closer we looked the more we found. We all were struck with the beauty and fragility of this landscape.

Significantly, while we were in Cambridge Bay, the US National Snow and Ice data center announced that 2007 will be the record low for ice in the Arctic. This is a significant event. The melt that is being observed is way ahead of the models. Conservatively, these experts are predicting that the Arctic may be Ice free in by 2030.

The implication for our planet is immense. As a team we pondered this news. The importance and timeliness of what InMER is seeking to accomplish has become urgent. Change is upon us but there still is hope. If we act and act decisively we can lessen the magnitude of this change. Now is the time.