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Labrador project combines local knowledge with new technology to make ice travel safer – Canadian Geographic Blog

by ahnationtalk on April 7, 2016435 Views

April 7, 2016

In Nain, Labrador, a new project is combining the ice expertise of Inuit hunters with sophisticated technology to take some of the guesswork out of ice travel in changing times. It’s also giving young people an opportunity to get involved in science.

For Inuit, the sea ice is a highway, a vital link to hunting areas where they obtain much of their country food. In Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Labrador, people also travel over ice to collect firewood for heating their homes. They use routes their ancestors established, and which have stood the test of time — until recently.

The warmer arctic winters of recent years have brought some unpleasant surprises for Inuit, including unsafe ice in unexpected places. “The ice is thinner, it forms later and it breaks up earlier than before,” says Trevor Bell, professor of geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “Ice travel can be more dangerous because local knowledge of traditional routes — based on past climatic conditions — is less reliable.

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