Traditional knowledge about polar bears adds to climate change evidence in Greenland

Interviews with 25 Inuit polar bear hunters in East Greenland provide a wealth of knowledge about changes in sea ice, warming, and polar bear distribution and trends. Evidence of climate change reported by the hunters included receding glaciers, higher temperatures, and the loss of sea ice. These changes made it harder for them to access sea ice, because dog sledges are no longer safe given wide patches of open water during months when sea ice used to be safe to travel over. In addition, about 80% of hunters reported that more polar bears are entering their communities, which they attributed to both the loss of sea ice and the introduction of quota limits on polar bear hunts. The research on traditional Inuit knowledge was conducted by SAFS and Applied Physics Lab professor Kristin Laidre, Allison Northey, and Fernando Ugarte, and is published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Change in hunting patterns in the region of Ittoqqortoormiit, showing how past hunting areas (green, 10-15 yr ago) are greatly reduced in recent years (pink).
Back to Top