Ice, Climate and Changing Livelihoods on Greenland’s Northwest Coast, Mark Nuttall

Mark Nuttall, University of Alberta; University of Greenland

As climate change, resource development, indigenous rights, conservation, sovereignty, and environmental and political security in the global North attract greater attention, Greenland has moved into sharper international focus. In the coastal areas of Northwest Greenland, water, ice and land intermingle with the lives and trajectories of humans and animals, take on a multitude of shapes and forms, and give rise to a complexity of social relations. However, the effects of climate change are increasingly evident. Sea ice cover during winter and spring is less extensive than people living in the region have known it to be, while icebergs calve from tidewater glaciers at a rate faster than they and scientists have previously observed. Glacial ice mass is diminishing and increased meltwater runoff from glacial fronts affects water temperature, ocean depths and circulation patterns, as well as the formation and thickness of sea ice and the movements of marine mammals and fish. These changes have profound implications for local livelihoods and mobilities, the wider regional economy, and human and non-human entanglements. Furthermore, large areas of land and great stretches of seabed are being defined and marked off as spaces of resource abundance with significant economic potential. In this presentation, I consider what some of the effects of climate change on sea ice and glacial ice mean for people and their surroundings, and discuss how the challenges arising from environmental transformation combine with political and economic ones, as well as broader processes of social change.

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