Monday, July 10, 2006

Goodbye to the Ice

Hello. This has been a little while coming I know but it has taken some time to realise I really am back in London! Barrow was a different world. It was a great privilege to share the lives of the people there for 2 months. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their comments and interest in my trip. It helped so much, especially at the beginning when I was feeling a bit scared. I really do recommend blogs for this sort of trip. It was fantastic to be able to share photos etc while it was happening. Climate change wise, I've learned a great deal but realised the story is even more complicated than I thought. I'm working on my material and am contacting everyone who was in touch and posted comments so you can keep across it. It won't be on this space as this was informal and just to update friends and family. If you want to know more about what I'm doing then please leave a comment with a contact email. Signing off, have a good summer everyone, Ice Fairy.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Polar bears come to town!

Julia emailed me this one which was at the dump at about 1.30 in the morning...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Still no water!

Just spoke to Julia, Aku and Billy. The ice still hasn't opened up. The blanket toss festival is this Friday. I am in London. It's so hot! And I miss Barrow.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bye bye Alaska

This'll wake ya up!

That was in Anchorage which also has lots of tattoos and leather. I forgot to show you the photo of the successful whaling boat - you can see the crew flag flying on it. I went to a return of the whalers party (pron aparardi don't know how to spell) and saw all the elders being fed soup and fermented whale meat and then I washed dishes for several hundred.

I've left Alaska now, complete with my Inupiaq name Singaagauluk (Sing-ar-or-luk) which was given to me by Julia. It's her name and she said I should be very honoured so I was. Also have my Kaleak crew whaling jacket and my furry hat. Stayed in a fantastic hostel in Anchorage which I recommend and found some Inupiaq language tapes in the bookshop. They only have Kotzebue dialect which is a bit different from Barrow but it will have to do.

Now in Edmonton with lovely cousins and auntie and uncle and scrappy the dog. Yesterday we saw someone called Don Cherry a hockey commentator who is apparently very famous and who wears very bad jackets. Flying home to London tomorrow. Night shift Wed. Rang Barrow to see if anyone had caught any last minute whales but they haven't. As of Friday the ice still hadn't opened up.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Heading back

I'm in Anchorage. Am so exhausted. Am going to chat to oil companies and local radio/papers tomorrow. It's sooo hot. Going to see Auntie and cousins in Canada for few days on Thursday. Back Monday 19th. Then will start working on film/exhibition... Wish me luck...

Monday, June 12, 2006


Sorry for the lack of writing. Hope no one was worried. I am leaving Barrow tomorrow and am finding that all a bit traumatic so I haven't been doing much climate change wise. Whaling has ended. It's been a very poor season with only 3 whales caught. Some people say that's because of changing climate but lots of people say it isn't too. There have been years where they didn't get any at all before. I went to talk to the North Slope Borough Mayor who says it's all very well co-operating with the scientists which he is all for but he feels no-one is really looking at the impact climate change is having on Inupiat culture. It's the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in a few weeks and they will come here from Russia and Greenland and other places to talk about climate change. And soon Barrow will have its blanket toss festival where everyone eats whale and they use a huge blanket to throw people up in the air like a trampoline. Everyone is looking forward to going bearded seal and walrus hunting now. Van says he pities me having to go back to London. They are all gearing up for lots of fun. Boooooo. I'll write more from Anchorage or wrap up and post more audio/links from London.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sea Ice retreat

Here we are - I found the maps I was after.
You can see how much the sea ice has retreated off the coasts of Alaska and Siberia in comparison to the expected mean - that's the fat pink line around the edge.

Sea ice conditions for September 2002, 2003, and 2004, derived from the Sea Ice Index. Each image shows the concentration anomaly (key on right) and the 1979-2000 median September ice edge (pink line). For each year, the ice edge is well north of its median position off the coasts of Alaska and Siberia. Image provided by National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder.

This is all from this really cool website

here's an extract...
Passive microwave satellite data reveal that Arctic ice extent decreased about 3 percent per decade while Antarctic ice extent increased by 0.8 percent per decade (Cavalieri et al. 2003).

In recent years, satellite data have indicated an even more dramatic reduction in regional ice cover. In September 2002, sea ice in the Arctic reached a record minimum (Serreze et al. 2003), 4 percent lower than any previous September since 1978, and 14 percent lower than the 1978-2000 mean.

Fossil fuel consumption and the resulting increase in global temperatures could explain sea ice decline, but the actual cause might be more complicated. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) is a seesaw pattern of alternating atmospheric pressure at polar and mid-latitudes. So sea ice decline may result from natural variability in the AO. Growing evidence suggests, however, that greenhouse warming favors the AO's positive mode, meaning recent sea ice decline results from a combination of natural variability and global warming.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yum yum

Eli has taught me how to make eskimo donuts. They're just donuts with raisins in and no sugar on. We put blueberries in YUM.


This Barrow polar bear was on the front page of the Edmonton Journal. It was watching another whaling crew here. It didn't come too close and no one shot at it. Thanks to cousin Phil for sending it... I still haven't seen one but Billy saw a 'medium sized one' about 20 metres away the one time I wasn't with him on the snowmachine. It ran away when it saw him.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Goose hunt

It was so much fun. I haven't laughed so much in years. First of all we went to Kaleak camp and stayed in one of these cabins.

This is the view from the goose shooting hide. It's been used by generations of Kaleaks.

Then we went to Uyaghralik(?) which is closer to Barrow because the snow was starting to melt. That means the ice over the rivers is starting to melt and you can't risk snowmachining over them when they are slushy cos you might go through. This is the river at Uyaghralik.

No cabin at Uyaghralik so we squished into a tent. You just don't worry about whether it's day or night. Sleep when you want and for as long as you need. No-one gets called lazy. It's great! Played lots of cards when it was too windy for the geese to fly. I have started to win at Rummy(?) but am still not very good at Pick 2. Here are my opponents... Billy looking suspicious and Eli concentrating.

At one point Eli got stuck in a melting river and Billy had to pull him out.

They are really noticing the warming and Billy is worried that the geese/caribou might stop migrating through that part of the tundra if it gets too warm. They caught about 30 geese altogether. For them and relatives and elders who don't have anyone to hunt for them anymore.

I saw caribou and snowy owls. The owls were incredible. The caribou were too young to be of interest for hunting. I can call a goose and a ptarmigan now. Shot the gun twice. First time I wasn't expecting the kick back as they make it look so easy and nearly fell over which made them laugh a lot. Second time shot at a snowball and missed.

Am learning Inupiak... But don't know how to spell!
Are you cold? - alapoo?
Yes/no - eeee/nomee
A little bit - oodigoo
Thank you - kwee-ah-noc
Thankyou very much - kwee-ah-noc-buk
Go to sleep - siq-quwoin
Calm down - nalai
Shut up - atta
Scarey - ihanee
Your go (for cards) - illivin/illivich
I don't know - achoo
Dunno you decide - achoo leveen
Right? - umeee
Good - ardee-gar
Very good - ardee-gar-har
Cute/pretty - atai
Lets go - kida
My conversation needs working on!

We stayed out a bit long and Julia got worried. We didn't have a radio although we'd visited a neighbouring camp on Friday and told them we were fine on their radio and heading back Sunday we were about 5 hours later than we said we would be. I was put on the search and rescue base list (they keep a list of where everyone is all the time) as Doreen Kaleak. They liked that ha ha.

Am staying here longer and not going to northern Canada now. Today we have to clean all the geese. I am going to go and summon courage by eating a snickers.