by Staff Writers
Montreal, Canada (SPX) Aug 08, 2016
Search and rescue operations in Nunavut have more than doubled over the past decade. In the communities of the vast northern Canadian territory, it's commonly felt that climate change is one factor making hunting riskier in the spring and fall.
A new study shows a strong link between environmental conditions and search and rescues cases across Nunavut, moving scientists closer to understanding the impact of climate change on Inuit.
"Hunting and travelling on the land and sea are an essential component of food security and cultural identity for many in Nunavut. The effects of climate change threaten this way of life for the Inuit." says Dylan Clark, a member of the Climate Change Adaptation Research group headed by McGill geography professor Prof. James Ford.
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"We wanted to be able to say there were a lot of people out on this particular day and no one needed a search, but very few people were out on another day and the search was needed," Clark says. "Now, what were the weather conditions on each of those days?" Clark found that the risks peak around -3 C, confirming what he had been hearing from community members.
"This study puts us one step closer to understanding climate change impacts on land safety," Clark says.
"Hunters may want to take extra precautions when they go out on those days and search and rescue volunteers may want to ensure they're ready for a mission. Now that we know environmental conditions are linked to risk, we will need to look at the bigger picture to understand how social and environmental changes are interacting to impact risk".
Research paper: The role of environmental factors in search and rescue incidents in Nunavut, Canada, by D.G. Clark, J.D. Ford, L. Berrang-Ford, T. Pearce, S. Kowal W.A. Gough in Public Health
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