Climate on Ice: Ocean-Ice Dynamics

Science Matters

Sea ice is not simple. Some Background is in order.

When white men started to explore the north of America, they first encountered the Crees. Hudson Bay posts were established to trade goods for pelts, especially the beavers used for making those tall hats worn by British ceremonial guards.

The Crees told the whites that further on toward the Arctic Circle there were others they called “eskimos”. The Cree word means “eaters of raw meat” and it is derogatory. The Inuit (as they call themselves) were found to have dozens of words for snow, a necessary vocabulary for surviving in the Arctic world.

A recent lexicon of sea ice terminology in Nunavik (Appendix A of the collective work Siku: Knowing our Ice, 2008) comprises no fewer than 93 different words. These include general appellations such as siku, but also terms as specialized as qautsaulittuq, ice that breaks after its strength…

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