July 01, 2014

"Much of the public doesn't view climate change as a crisis that affects people..."

'E&E Publishing "But a new visual project from a team of Arctic researchers is highlighting the human presence on top of the world and aiming to educate the public about the impact of climate change on humans now." by Henry Gass

'More of a historical project than a scientific one, the Pan Inuit Trails project is an online document of historic and existing Inuit trails and sites that crisscross North America's Arctic regions. Where most people see a frozen cap at the top of the continent -- out of reach of human influence -- this project shows an elaborate network of trade and exploration routes on land and sea stretching from Greenland to the northwestern tip of Alaska.

'Using old published and unpublished maps and records, as well as extensive traditional Inuit knowledge of the region, the researchers were able to compile a comprehensive record of human mobility and occupancy in the Arctic. While some of the trails are no longer reliable, or no longer exist because of ice melt, others are still heavily used and are now marked by modern snowmobile tracks and Inuit stone statues.

'Many of the maps came from the 18th and 19th centuries and were commissioned by Arctic explorers and land surveyors.

'Claudio Aporta, an associate professor at Dalhousie University and co-leader of the atlas project, has been chronicling Inuit trails for years. He said that even some Inuit were surprised at how far the trails reached across the continent.

'"There was no awareness of how the trails would basically connect the whole North American Arctic," Aporta said.'

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