Linking Cree Hunters’ and scientific observations of changing inland ice and meteorological conditions in the subarctic Eastern James Bay region, Canada

Marie-Jeanne Royer, Thora Martina Herrmann, Oliver Sonnentag, Daniel Fortier, Kenel Delusca, Rick Cuciurean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

For the Cree First Nation communities of the eastern James Bay region in the
Canadian Subarctic, local weather plays a key role in traditional subsistence activities. There is rising concern among the Cree about changes in inland ice conditions as they pose challenges to Cree livelihood, health and culture. Here we contrast Crees’ observations of inland ice conditions and long-term measurements obtained to foster interdisciplinary climate change research between scientists and Cree communities. We compiled qualitative observations of inland ice conditions and compared them with long-term measurements (> 25 years) of air temperature, precipitation and snow depth from three meteorological stations in the Cree territory. Cree hunters observed a weakening of lake ice cover (e.g., change in ice composition and structure, increased rain in winter). Trend analysis of long-term measurements showed a significant increase in mean autumn air temperature as well as in winter and autumn precipitation. By contrasting Cree hunters’ observations with climate data, we identified that an increase in fall and winter precipitation could be causing a weakening of inland ice through a change in its composition (i.e., snow ice instead of congelation ice). We conclude that Cree and scientific knowledge are complementary when investigating and understanding climate change in the Subarctic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-732
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Volume119
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2013

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