Team report marked rise in Arctic temperatures

Hello, this is Glenn with the Arctic Voice report of 14th August 2007. We’re camping in an Inuit summer camp on the north side of Richardson Bay and that’s approximately 8 miles north, north west of Kugluktuk. So we’re elated with this and the end is now in sight. In fact last night we could see the lights of Kugluktuk in the distance just twinkling across the bay about 8 miles away. Sea conditions at the moment are pretty good – we’ve got a slight breeze but it looks calm and we’re going to leave as soon as we can and probably cross the bay straight over to Kugluktuk.

The last few days have been fantastic. We crossed Basil Bay and Klegenberg Bay. Klegenburg Bay was near calm – it was almost a spiritual experience crossing it. It was absolutely fantastic. The sea was absolutely clear, we could see the bottom, it was just a wonderful experience. Basil Bay was a slightly different story. It cut up a bit rough for us there. Fortunately the fetch was not great but it was a Force 5 and we had a more or less a beam sea largely off our starboard quarter. It was a bit interesting at times but we dug in and got across as soon as we could. It’s not actually a big crossing in terms of the crossings we’ve made but it was big enough in the wind we had. My personal thanks to Gordon Brown and Skyak Adventures with the training because I don’t suppose I could have coped with it without him. We would also like to thank Gordon for his advice on the kayaks and some of the equipment because it was very helpful advice and proved sound.

We rounded Cape Kendall and in the distance we saw two people on the peninsula fishing and it turned out it was Jack and Joanne and we met them as we stopped on the peninsula. Jack is President of the Hunters and Trappers Association and an extremely interesting man. They very kindly invited us to dinner, which for two hungry guys like us was a bit of a mistake — we almost ate them out of house and home! They had just caught an enormous Arctic Char when we met them and that’s what we had for dinner last night and so we are indebted to them for that. They made us very welcome. They actually gave us breakfast this morning.

I had a conversation with Jack. He is a hunter from Kugluktuk and a mine of very interesting information. We wondered why the seas seemed very barren in terms of life. He told us that the fish are tending to move further north. In fact all the indications we are getting from most of the people we are meeting, hunters and otherwise are that new insects are appearing, new flowers are appearing and animals that previously lived in the lower environs are now moving north. There are big, big changes going on. He was also telling us that the ice rink, — ice hockey is of course very popular in these parts – indeed Canada all over – they have a covered ice rink in Kugluktuk and in recent years it is no longer freezing over. So there are marked rises in the temperature and they’re impacting on people’s lives here really quite dramatically – actually changing their lifestyles.

Stephen’s been in charge of navigation on this journey and we’ve referred originally to the Admiralty pilot, which wasn’t printed that long ago, about 2001 or something like that. And it gave the expected temperature, the upper temperature that we were likely to experience at this time of year at 21° C – we’ve experienced temperatures not far short of 35° C. Certainly 33° C on a few evenings and days. This is a marked increase. Once again this has been noticeable in talking to the Inuvialuit and Inuit people – these temperatures are increasing and in a big way.

The other rather sad thing that Jack mentioned to us is that the elders are really noticing the changes. They are people who’ve gone through a huge life change. They’ve seen living in snow houses and sod houses and they’ve gone through in their lives experiencing that to now computers, helicopters and quad bikes. In the past the elders were respected very much for their hunting skills and now it seems people are respected here for how much money they’ve got, which seems to me at least a very sad reflection of the times. In a way it’s a microcosm of how society in general seems to be viewing people at the moment.

The beauty of this landscape is indescribable. The hospitality of the Inuit people as usual is fantastic. Last night as we rounded Cape Kendall and headed towards where Jack has his camp here the evening sun was lighting these towering, deep red and black cliffs. It was absolutely stunning – it looked like the battlements of a huge, giant castle. It was indescribable and something that we would never be able to get in photographic form. The whole experience was amazing.

We’ve still got work to do in Kugluktuk and we’ve got to liase with the school and we want to talk to some people while we’re there. I must say I’m looking forward to a pint at the Seven Stars in Aberedw back in Wales and I’m missing the hills of Wales as well. It’s been a fantastic journey. It’s not over yet but we think we’re going to get there today – if the weather cuts up rough it will be tomorrow possibly. It’s been a fantastic journey no doubt about that and we’ve got a lot of stories to tell and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone.

Jack, President of the Hunters and Trappers Association

Jack with the Arctic Char

Sunset over Cape Kendall

Cape Kendall in the evening sun

3 Responses to “Team report marked rise in Arctic temperatures”

  1. Norrie Says:

    Hi all
    Rose and I have been following your adventures and loved every minute of it.
    We don’t know if you will get this short note, I do know that our local paper correspondent did email a few times and didn’t get any response so I think he simply gave up. He wanted to do all he could for the expedition due to Richard being local to here but that beggars another comment.
    We wish you both a safe and timely return and would love to hear all about your trip in due course.
    Best wishes,
    Norrie and Rose
    (Gordon’s mum and dad)

  2. Michael Bradley Says:

    Enjoyed reading your experiences and good to see that Inuit hospitality is unchanged even in their changing world. My friends in Nunavik (arctic Quebec) tell me of similar environmental warming changes there as well. Looks like we’re in for times which will test our abilities to adapt to new realities in even more ways that we thought!
    All the best!

  3. Gordon J Says:

    Hi both,

    Read your report today 19th Aug here in the UK in Cloudy Hythe S E England. Elaine and I are really pleased for you. Have even recruited another supporter from the Southern States of America who had been looking in. The word is getting out. Great trip, take care all the best

    Gordon and Elaine (Johnson that is, not the Scottish one!) :)