experienced Inuit hunters, as comfortable reading ice conditions as professional golfers are reading greens, had seldom fallen through the ice and drowned. But this year in Alaska, more than a dozen vanished into the sea.
… “The ice conditions are just so drastically different from all of their hunting lifetimes.”
The people of this far northern Canadian hamlet of 250 used to hunt eider ducks every summer, using the meat and eggs for food and the soft feathers for clothing. But this past summer was the third in a row that the Inuit couldn’t reach the nesting grounds because the ice around them was too thin.
The seals have changed, as well.
Wayne Davidson, the resident meteorologist in Resolute Bay for 20 years, says monthly temperatures throughout the year are 5 to 11 degrees higher than recent historical averages. For example, Davidson said, the average daily temperature last March was minus 13.4 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with an average of minus 24.2 degrees from 1947 to 1991.
“There’s almost nobody left anymore who doesn’t accept that global warming is real.”
It certainly feels real enough to the people of Resolute Bay. From their perch on the edge of the Barrow Strait, they watched this summer as the waters of their rocky bay melted and filled with drifting icebergs – a view as depressing as it was picturesque, because in years past the water remained frozen solid enough to traverse aboard sleds and snowmobiles to their traditional hunting grounds.
“The heat of the sun is different now,” said Kalluk, the village elder, trying to make sense of the changes. “I think there is global warming, because snow that has never melted before is starting to melt now.”