Arctic Seas Portal Shares Marine Spaces to Wide Audiences

2021Today Snowchange with partners releases ”Arctic Seas”, a major international atlas and a portal that summarizes Indigenous and ecological information from the changing oceans of the North.

The Planet Has Only One Ocean But Many Seas.

Our work is connected with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Research 2020-2030 and also our partners, the Future Seas 2030 Initiative.

The portal, which will be expanding rapidly, contains

  • Photography by award-winning artists like Mika Honkalinna
  • Summaries and unique, authentic voices of Arctic Indigenous communities and their knowledge
  • Summaries of sea ice changes for each Arctic Sea area 1850-2020 based on science
  • External links to major regional Indigenous atlases, including the Inuit Trails, Sea Ice, Place Name and Community-Based Monitoring Atlases
  • Films, reports and data on each sea area in local languages (main language is English)
  • Hand-drawn maps of ecosystem changes from 20,000 years ago to present and on special Arctic islands, like Wrangel
  • Scalable, 3D and zoomable maps on each sea area (use control key)
  • Links to major marine science research that reviews and discusses how the northern seas are changing

Endemic, Cultural Interpretations of Climate and the Land on the Arctic Coasts

Outside descriptions of Arctic cultures, sea areas and the environment do not really convey how the Indigenous and local communities in this region self-conceptualize their home worlds and marine coasts. We may receive reminders and reflections of such cultural understandings by carefully and respectfully learning from the knowledge holders.

Snowchange has been working for 18 years with the Igloolik Oral History Project led for the better part of 35 years by John Macdonald, Leah Otak and Igloolik Elders.

To gain understanding, it is worth quoting Macdonald (2004) at length, when he says: “A defining characteristic of all traditional Inuit societies was their ability, not only to comprehend the intricacies of Arctic weather and environment from their own spiritual and philosophical perspectives, but also to deal with it in practical terms. Inuit clothing and dwellings, for instance, relying solely on materials at hand stand as unsurpassed adaptations to the Arctic climate. In addition, their cosmology, cooperative social skills, comprehension of the land and its resources, and specialize d hunting techniques, all combined to make a people competent and comfortable in a remarkably harsh environment.

We are positioning Indigenous and local knowledge from all Arctic sea areas alongside science to offer users an authentic view of a specific marine ecosystem and comments.

We will include reviews of present and past climate and environmental events to the regional sea sections and they will be updated regularly.

What do these changes mean, for the people of the Arctic coasts and beyond?

What are messages from the Arctic seas?

We wish to encourage visitors and users to contemplate what these changes under way mean and how they are affecting the northern coastal communities. The portal is far from exhaustive, and we welcome comments and suggestions.

We hope you will find these “dispatches from the cold seas” interesting!

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