Expedition day: 52
Position: N 80° 06′ W 088° 14′
Distance traveled: 27.4 km / 17 mi
Huddled in my tent, Sam and I have just finished a supper of spaghetti. Beside us, the other team members are also in their tents, and the dogs are tied in a square around us. It often feels like we are a small little community.
In the high arctic, due to the harsh climate and living condition, there are only a couple communities. To be exact, their are two communities and two weather/military stations located in Canada’s High Arctic.
Resolute is situated on Cornwallis Island were our expedition departed from 52 days ago. Home to only 230 people, it is the largest settlement in this area.
Further north, Grise Fiord is the only community on Ellesmere Island. Only 150 people live in the area.
Alert is an army and scientific base, located on one of the furthest most northerly points of Ellesmere Island. Among many other things, the scientists study air chemistry, weather and air pollution.
The last weeks, we have been dog sledding towards the Eureka weather station, which is our end point to the expedition. Eureka is also situated on Ellesmere Island, more specifically the west coast. We are all excited to find out more about their research when we arrive in 10 days!
Grise Fjord is the only community on Ellesmere Island located in the southern end of the Island and is the furthest north settlement in North America. Norwegian Polar explorer Otto Sverdrup named it “pig fjord” in Norwegian because the sound of the walruses that reside there reminded him of pig noises.
Inuit had passed through the area, but never traditionally settled. In 1922, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were the first to set up a permanent post at Craig Harbor, 55 km west of Grise Fiord. As the sovereignty of the High Artic grew questionable, the Canadian government decided to relocate eight Inuit families (from northern Quebec and Baffin Island) to live and hunt in the harsh climate of Ellesmere Island. They were placed just outside of Grise Fiord. It wasn’t till the RCMP moved their post to the current location in 1956 that houses and schools were built in the 60’s and additional Inuit families moved to Grise Fiord, where the community still exists today. It is home to approximately 150 residents.
Melanie McGrath, The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic (Knopf; 2007)
Alert was established in 1950 as a weather station, and is located on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. The Canadian military established themselves there shortly after 1958. Then in 1986, an air pollution monitoring lab was established and Alert became the furthest north permanent research station and the most northerly permanent settlement in the world, home to 70 personnel. The main studies today include an air chemistry observatory and ozone observations.
D.L. Stossel, The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1SEC876911
National defense, http://www.img.forces.gc.ca/org/cfiog/alert_e.asp
View the Global Warming 101 Ellesmere Island Expedition map and follow their progress.
Map updated daily with new position.
This dispatch was created and posted using Dispatch 1.0 – an expedition dispatch software developed by The Will Steger Foundation and Global Warming 101 Expeditions.