13 Sep 2013

Great White (Northern) Science – LINKS and a CHALLENGE

By Claire Eamer

There’s lots of great science happening in the Great White North. (Actually, it’s not very white today – gorgeous fall colours instead – but you know what I mean.) And a lot of that science is being done by Northerners themselves. So I decided to spread the word.

Here’s the LINKS bit: I’ve dug out a few kid/teacher/librarian-friendly links for you. You’ll find them below, with short notes about where they lead.

And here’s the CHALLENGE bit: Hey, all you Northerners, scientists, science freaks (that’s me!), geeks (young and old), and wizards of Google-fu - let’s find some more! If you have a favourite science link to something that’s taking place in northern Canada, post it in the Comments section at the bottom. We can build something here.

So, here’s my first kick at the can - a mostly-but-not-entirely Yukon contribution.

This scimitar cat once roamed the Yukon grasslands. Today,
it snarls at visitors to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre
in Whitehorse. Claire Eamer photo
Would you like to learn about the amazing animals that roamed the Yukon 20,000 years ago, when most of Canada was buried under kilometres of ice? Check out the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre's Education Corner. There's everything from educational materials for senior grades to colouring sheets for the little kids. And check back regularly. I was talking to the Beringia Centre folk yesterday, and they're planning some great new additions to the site.

If I've got you hooked on mammoths, giant sloths, and scimitar cats, there's more information about the latest research (and lots of cool photos) in the online (pdf) booklets Ice Age Klondike and Ice Age Old Crow, published by the Yukon Government.

By the way, if you want to know what life is like today at Old Crow, the Yukon's most northerly community and home of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, check out the community website. It offers a sampler of the Gwich'in language, traditional stories, culture, history, cooking (lots of caribou recipes!), and a whole lot of other entertaining bits and pieces of information, including a collection of videos made by Old Crow students.

Back to ice ages and climate: how about climate change? The climate is warming faster in the North than anywhere else in Canada. What do northerners think about that? In 2000, the Inuvialuit people of Banks Island talked about their lives and how climate change is affecting them in a video called Inuit Observations of Climate Change, which is online in both a short version and a long version.

All that warming has turned up a few surprises. High in the  mountains of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, there are patches of permanent ice, too small to be glaciers but too big to melt over the short summer. Until recently. Now many of them are melting and revealing a record of plant, animal, and human life going back thousands of years. I blogged about the ice patch discoveries here last year. The online (pdf) booklet The Frozen Past has both information and photos of Yukon finds. And Archaeology magazine has an online article about ice patch finds in other parts of the world.

For first-hand accounts at what it's like to live and do research at the northwest edge of Canada, check out this series of podcasts produced by the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope). You'll find everything from elder Danny C. Gordon's account of a lifetime of travel across the Yukon North Slope and park ranger Richard Gordon's song in praise of Herschel Island to permafrost researcher Chris Burn's musings on using both scientific and traditional knowledge to understand the land and its future.

Okay, that's my contribution - for now. I won't promise not to come back and add more links in the Comments section, but I'll let you guys have a chance first. What's your favourite science link for the North? And don't think just about the northern territories. Besides the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, there's Labrador, Nunavik, and the northern regions of most of the provinces. Have I left anyone out? If so, add it in below.


rob walker said...

One of my favorites is the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Coop. Northern communities concerned about changes in their environment developed this community based ecological monitoring program. Read and learn about the environmental changes people living in northern communities see around them compared to their traditional ecological knowledge.

Claire Eamer said...

Good one, Rob. Thanks for adding it.

And that reminded me of CARMA - the CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment Network. In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about caribou and wild reindeer. And stuff you didn't know you wanted to know! It's at http://www.caff.is/carma.

There's also a very cool video put out by CARMA - at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aZzbU9jEl8. It's designed to show NWT caribou hunters how to collect information for the scientists, but it also gives you a good idea of the land, the people, and how they live.

Aynslie Ogden said...

Hi Claire! Here's a link to the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College - if you are interested in learning more about research done "in the north, for the north, by the north" check out their website: http://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/research

Paula said...

Hi Claire!
The first link that came to mind was for the astronomy centre here in Victoria, BC, known affectionately as The Centre of the Universe. http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/outreach/cu/ But alas, when the National Research Council budget cutback forced the observatory to eliminate the public outreach program, their website was also shut down. They still have some links up, but the homepage says that their outreach activities have been suspended.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a page of archaeolology and palaeontology booklets that Yukon government has developed and posted: http://www.tc.gov.yk.ca/yukon_community_booklets.html

Rod D

Claire Eamer said...

Thanks for that link, Rod. I love those pamphlets - great illustrations and very accessible.

Here's a similar information set from the Northwest Territories: the online exhibits put up by the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Go to http://www.pwnhc.ca/ and click on Online Exhibits.

And my personal favourite (so far) - the Beluga exhibit: http://www.pwnhc.ca/exhibits/beluga/

Ann M.A. said...

The Seabird Youth Network is a seabird education project based on the Pribilof Islands (Bering Sea).

The project website has a comprehensive set of seabird lesson plans for teachers to download, and a blog focused on sharing seabird research, monitoring and conservation stories with students K-12.

The site also posts links to other helpful seabird education resources.