(Gloria Galloway/Globe and Mail, 1 May 2012) -- The woman who heads the organization representing Canada’s 55,000 Inuit will let someone else lead her people into their future. Mary Simon’s work on behalf of the aboriginal people of the North spans more than four decades. She was one of the negotiators for the Inuit when Canada’s Constitution was being crafted. In her six years as leader of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, she has witnessed the settling of the last major Inuit land claim, she has heard an apology from the Prime Minister for the treatment of the aboriginal children at residential schools, and she has seen increasing recognition of the Inuit title to the vast resources of Canada’s North. “There has never been a day when I didn’t like my job,” she said during a recent interview in her office in downtown Ottawa. But Ms. Simon, 64, has told The Globe and Mail she will not seek a third term when the ITK, which represents Inuit in 53 communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador, holds its presidential election in early June. As she ponders the road forward, Ms. Simon knows much needs to be done. The progress made by the Inuit over the six years she has led their national organization has been “three steps forward and two steps back,” Ms. Simon said. ...
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:48:03 PM. Permalink
(Anna Mehler Paperny/Globe and Mail, 4 May 2012) -- Canada is moving to wrest back control of a swiftly changing North – or at least get a better handle on what’s going on in its icy waters. Global warming and growing international interest in the melting Northwest Passage make it imperative, the federal government says in an online call for expressions of interest, to improve surveillance in territory Canada claims but knows little about. The research arm of the Department of National Defence is investing $10-million from now through 2015 in a remote-controlled satellite surveillance project in the Barrow Strait, a small slice of the Northwest Passage through which most vessels pass on their way westward along that route. The Northern Watch project was announced in 2007 and the first equipment set up the next year, only to be severely damaged by harsh weather conditions. Now, after several years of remediation and altering equipment to make it stand up better to Arctic conditions, Ottawa has put a call out for a company to build a system that researchers can control from Halifax and, eventually, set up to be entirely automated. It will send the signals to Defence Research and Development Canada's Atlantic section, which specializes in underwater photography. “Right now, we don’t have any actual presence in the Arctic, except for where we have people living,” said Gary Geling, Defence Research and Development Canada’s lead scientist on the project. “One of the things we really don’t have a good feel for right now is exactly where everything is. … This [new equipment] allows us to know who’s coming in.”
Posted 4 May 2012; 1:10:49 PM. Permalink
(Brett Smith for Redorbit.com) Canadian Craig Duncan was digging a trench in the basement of his new house in the Yukon Territory capital of Whitehorse when he stumbled over something unusual. “We were down about three feet, sifting through some of the stones down there to lay the electrical lines when I kicked what looked like a piece of bone,” Duncan said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “First, I thought it could be a dinosaur or something, but when we saw the hoof, we thought it could be a horse or a bison.” The next morning, Duncan went to the Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture to notify government archeologists and paleontologists of his findings. "They got pretty excited. It was pretty funny — they just basically all came running," he said. Within hours the excavation team began digging and eventually uncovered a nearly complete prehistoric bison skull and skeleton, a rare find in this remote area of northwestern Canada. “There have only been about 10 partial bison finds in the Yukon and nothing as complete as a full skeleton,” said Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government. “We expect findings in the Dawson area, but we would never have thought we’d find something like this in the city.” Zazula added that the bison likely died an accidental death while roaming the area where Duncan’s house now stands. "We're finding little shells of snails and what not. And if I took a guess, it was probably an animal on the ice that probably fell through," he said. The bones have yet to carbon dated, but researchers estimate they may be 10,000 years old, about the same time Homo sapiens were taking the first steps toward civilization. The bones are believed to be remnants of one of two ancient groups of bison which roamed the Whitehorse area as early as the last ice age.
Posted 4 May 2012; 12:31:59 PM. Permalink
(University of Washington and Ohio State University press releases via redOrbit, 4 May 2012) -- Some of Greenland’s glaciers are moving approximately 30% faster than they were a decade ago, contributing to the rising sea level but not reaching worst-case speed levels that experts once feared, a new study published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science has discovered. According to Reuters reporter Deborah Zabarenko, researchers at the University of Washington (UW) and Ohio State University (OSU) studied satellite data from 2000 to 2011. They focused on more than 200 glaciers and discovered that their acceleration levels were not increasing as rapidly as earlier projections had feared. Previously, scientists analyzing the issue had presented a scenario in which the Greenland glaciers would double their velocity between 2000 and 2010, then stabilizing in terms of speed, as well as a second scenario in which their speeds would increase tenfold before stabilizing. Under the first scenario, the sea level would rise by approximately four inches by 2100, and under the second, it would increase by nearly 19 inches by that time, the University of Washington said in a May 3 press release. However, as they point out, those researchers “had little precise data available for how major ice regions, primarily in Greenland and Antarctica, were behaving in the face of climate change.” For the new study, lead author Twila Moon, a University of Washington doctoral student in Earth and space sciences, and co-authors Benjamin Smith of the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and Ian Howat, an assistant professor of earth sciences at OSU, recorded annual, wintertime changes in the outlet glaciers by using data from the Canadian Space Agency‘s Radarsat-1 satellite, Germany’s TerraSar-X satellite and Japan’s Advanced Land Observation Satellite, and discovered lower-than-anticipated increased in velocity. “’Glacial pace’ is not slow anymore,” Moon told the Associated Press (AP). That said, she added that, “some of the worst-case possibilities that we had imagined are not coming true at this point. So it’s not good news, but it’s not bad news.” Source:
Posted 4 May 2012; 12:28:14 PM. Permalink