Understanding Inuit community uses and needs for weather, water, ice and climate information and services

Ljubicic Gita

Project Leader

The combined effects of climate change and industrial development have resulted in decreased predictability of weather, water, and ice conditions across Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homelands). Socio-economic and political pressures associated with increases in shipping, tourism, fisheries, and resource development have compounding effects on access and use of lands and waters, as well as ice conditions in Inuit Nunangat. Colonization and modernization processes have also impacted the intergenerational transfer of Inuit knowledge and subsistence harvesting practices further challenging the ability of Inuit to travel safely on land, water and ice. Collectively, these pressures have led to community members seeking out and using diverse weather, water, ice and climate (WWIC) information and services, in support of safe travel. However, little is known about the extent to which WWIC information such as weather and marine forecasts, ice charts, satellite imagery, wind and tide information, and community-based monitoring outputs are used. It is critical to understand the relevance of available WWIC information and services in a community (i.e. local) context, how products are currently used, and what specific needs Inuit wish to articulate to guide future product and service delivery.

Our proposed project builds upon long-term community-research partnerships in 20 communities across Inuit Nunangat. We have been hearing for years from Inuit hunters and community members that WWIC services are not meeting local needs considering the scale, accessibility, usability, language, and technological barriers that arise for remote Inuit communities. The significant challenges associated with federal mandates to provide WWIC services that meet the needs of diverse end users have also been identified nationally and internationally. To date, there has been no systematic effort to document and assess the uses or needs of WWIC information and services across Inuit Nunangat.

Through regional leadership across all four Inuit regions, we will link several ongoing community-research partnerships to develop a more cooperative and networked approach to understanding Inuit community WWIC uses and needs. Together we will develop a short survey to better understand what kinds of WWIC information are currently being used, and community-identified needs for improved services, to support travel safety decisions across Inuit Nunangat. This networked approach, and collaborative survey development, is important to ensure that survey results can be useable to community members and decision-makers, as well as service providers and policy-makers from local to international scales. Developing a baseline is critical to inform future applied research with the goal of enhancing the accessibility and relevance of WWIC information in support of safe travel on land, water, and ice for Inuit and other northerners living in Inuit Nunangat.

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