Nunatsiavut Coastal Interactions Project (NCIP): Climate, Environment and Labrador Inuit subsistence strategies
Climate warming and associated changes in sea-ice conditions have a substantial impact on (sub)Arctic ecosystems and the services they support (e.g., land-fast sea ice platform for hunting, fishing and travelling, provisioning services), with direct consequences for the subsistence economy and traditional cultural activities of coastal Inuit communities. The nature and magnitude of future changes will vary from one region to another depending on specific environmental settings and, just like in the past, these changes will require new adaptive and management strategies. The NCIP project brings together a transdisciplinary group of researchers who will collaborate closely with the community of Nain, Nunatsiavut, to investigate the priority questions that the community would like to address in relation with their changing environment, and integrate
- paleo -environmental, -climatic and -productivity information recorded in coastal marine and lake sediments,
- information about cultural practices and food web interactions derived from archaeological archives, and
- Inuit Knowledge, historical climate archives, and satellite data.
The objective of the project is to assess the vulnerability and resilience of the coastal ecosystem in the Nain area in response to the climate fluctuations occurring over the last 12 000 years and, with this knowledge, better foresee impacts of contemporary climate changes in the near future. Nain itself is a region of particular environmental significance in Labrador, as its territory features both very extensive and persistent land-fast ice, small and episodic polynyas, one of the most important ringed seal breeding areas in Labrador as well as the largest Inuit community in Nunatsiavut. The study of landforms and sedimentary archives from marine and
lake sediment cores will be used to highlight landscape evolution, climatic and anthropogenic forcing upon ecological processes local to the Nain region. Archaeological sites, and more specifically ecofacts (bones), will give precious information about the nature of these interactions. The data will permit to evaluate the reliability of various regional climate models used for projections of future climate from simulations of the recent past. Hence, this project will produce data relevant for the evaluation of future
climate trajectories and the potential impacts of climate change on Inuit food security, harvesting and winter travel routes in the Nain region, key considerations for sustainable management of marine resources. It will also provide a unique local and integrated historical ecology framework for understanding past cultural transformations, movements and subsistence practices of Inuit communities of the Nain region.