Production & practice of weather knowledge in Pangnirtung, Nunavut

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Thursday, 21 January 2010: 8:30 AM
B213 (GWCC)
Jennifer A. Spinney, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; and K. Pennesi

In June of 2008, residents of Pangnirtung, Nunavut experienced atmospheric conditions which caused disastrous flooding of the Duval River, the development of cracks in the permafrost, the erosion of the river's shoreline, and the collapse of vital infrastructure. This research project was funded by Arctic Net: Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada and explored the perceived causes and effects of this event. More specifically, the research attempted to learn, firstly, what people in the community consider disastrous and severe weather to be, secondly, how residents produce, interpret, and utilize predictions of severe weather, and thirdly, how a changing climate may be effecting residents' daily activities. Methodologies for this research included three months of participant observation, several informal conversations as well as 27 formal interviews with community members, and 2 focus group discussions with Inuit elders and youth. Many residents indicated that the temperatures, wind strength, and degree of precipitation during the event of June 2008 were normal. Furthermore, most pointed out the immediate effects to the land and impacts to the community were, at best, exciting, and at worst, inconvenient. It is evident that disconnects exist between scientific and community perceptions in terms of the different weather phenomenon as experienced by residents in Pangnirtung. In these times of changing climatic conditions it is essential for the scientific community to understand how residents in Arctic coastal communities cope with atmospheric hazards so that we can be of better assistance to community leaders as they develop action plans and prepare for future weather events.