At first coming back to Resolute was disappointing. We came back to support Saskia in healing her eyes from snow blindness, and to keep our strong team morale alive. As always when one door closes another opens, now we’ve realised that forgoing our goal of reaching the magnetic North Pole has given us the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of Inuit culture and what life is like in the second northernmost village in the world of Resolute. Since we came back from the ice we’ve been exploring the intriguing town with the help of our local teenage friends and guides Alicia and Angeline who like all the people up here are open warm welcoming, always more than happy to answer the thousands of questions we have.
We walked up to the local school today on the now melted roads (before we left for the pole they were all covered in snow, in such a short time its already almost all gone). School life here is fascinating; in the small school of 60 students they get free breakfasts, learn a range of interesting subjects, get to work with visiting scientists and are immersed in the native Inuit culture and language. The principle, Jennifer Borden, was happy to show us around the well resourced school with its corridors covered in posters ranging from how to build an igloo or dog sled, to the Inuit values which guide everything the school does. We learnt about how students get to go out on trips with elders to learn about traditional hunting methods and how every part of the animal can be used. We sat in on part of an Inuktitut (the Inuit language) lesson and saw how students love to learn their highly descriptive language.
After going to the local store, and talking with the manager about why a can of coke costs $5 CAD and learning about how everything here either comes on the yearly resupply ship or has to be flown in at exorbitant rates, making us appreciate the conveniences we have at home, Saskia and I headed out to meet Wayne the weatherman. Wayne’s been monitoring the weather and atmosphere in Resolute for the past 25 years, over that time he’s seen some extreme changes in the climate. When we arrived he was busy trying to fix a spectrometer which measures the amount of Ozone in the upper atmosphere, but he was more than happy to explain to us how the ozone hole above the arctic has changed in the last few months due to the warmer start of winter, he went into a much more scientific explanation which I’m sure Roswitha Stolz, of the University of Munich, would love but most of us wouldn’t understand.
He told us about how all his precise instruments are all indicating dramatic change and warming, which happens much faster in the Arctic that anywhere else in the world. This backs up what we’ve witnessed on the thin sea ice, to back up our predictions of open water on our journey to the pole he showed us a recent satellite image of a large lead in the ice (a gap between two packs of ice) just ahead of where we were heading. As we sit in the comfort of Resolute we hope that the ice doesn’t break up too much and the weather clears so the rest of the team can get back and learn more about Inuit life.