Silalirijiit Project Activities

2009

In late August of 2009, local Clyde River (Kangiqtugaapik) hunters and Elders began collaborating with researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University (CSU) to initiate the Silalirijiit weather station project.

Local weather experts and team researchers Ilkoo Angutikjuak, Joelie Sanguya, and Laimikie Palluq took the visiting team members Glen Liston (CSU), Kelly Elder (CSU/U.S. Forest Service), Mark Dixon (U.S. Forest Service), and Henry Huntington (Huntington Consulting) by boat to visit potential locations in the Clyde River area where the project would establish automated weather stations. The new stations will collect data critical to the project by recording weather behaviour in regions surrounding the community. Also, these stations provide up-to-date weather information for areas frequently used by Clyde River hunters.

Location scoutingThe team scouts the location for the second weather station at Silasiutitalk. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

In addition to reconnaissance work for the project weather stations, the team met with other local experts to present the project and gain advice on project design and methods, including where to install the weather stations. After several meetings through the summer and fall of 2009, the weather station sites were confirmed.

Snow mappingLaimikie Palluq (left), Elijah Kautaq (center), and Joelie Sanguya (right) map areas of snow accumulation in the Clyde River area. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

2010

In early June of 2010, Elder, Liston, and Huntington returned to Clyde River to begin the installation of the weather stations. The team travelled to the first location, Akuliaqattak, approximately 70 kilometers from Clyde River.

The team was joined by Clyde River community members Esa Qillaq and Jayko Ashevak, who were key to installing the stations. Also there to help and experience the Arctic were Kelly and Henry's children, Lee Elder and Caleb and Thomas Huntington.

The first station was installed successfully on June 3, 2010

Weather station installationEsa Qillaq (left) and Kelly Elder work on installing the Akuliaqattak weather station. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Back in the community, the team met with a group of expert hunters to gather more advice on project design and discuss local weather conditions.

In August of 2010, the Colorado-based team returned to install the final two stations. Esa Qillaq, Isa Piungituq, and Joelie Sanguya led this stage of the installations, taking the scientists and all needed equipment by boat to the community-chosen locations. Joining the team this time was April Cheuvront, a science teacher from North Carolina who joined the field work so she could bring the project experience back to her eighth-grade classroom.

Installation teamThe installation team at Silasiutitalik. Photo credit: Kelly Elder

The installations at Ailaktalik and Silasiutitalik, the chosen locations 30 kilometers and 110 kilometers from Clyde River, were a success. Several weeks later, the Silalirijiit Project weather station network Web site went live, providing access to all the data.

In early October 2010, members of the team from Clyde River traveled to Colorado to meet with the scientists in university settings. Ilkoo Angutikjuak, Joelie Sanguya, Igah Sanguya, Rosemary Sanguya, Esa Qillaq, Raygee Palituq, and Shari Gearheard (Clyde River-based University of Colorado researcher and project lead) all traveled to Colorado. The team met to review early results of data analysis from the installed meteorological stations. The team also reviewed early iterations of Glen Liston's regional-scale models to understand patterns of wind and blowing snow.

Joelie SanguyaJoelie Sanguya, one of the Silalirijiit researchers and a Clyde River hunter, speaks to an audience at Colorado State University. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

While in Colorado, the Inuit from Clyde River gave presentations at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and Poudre High School in Fort Collins. They presented the Arctic seasons and their changes based on their own knowledge and perspective. The venues were packed with people interested in hearing from Arctic residents who understand this environment firsthand.

2011

In early May, 2011 Glen Liston, Henry Huntington, and Kelly Elder, along with son Dylan Elder, travelled back to Clyde River for maintenance on the Clyde River weather stations and to continue meetings with local residents. Locally-based research team members Esa Qillaq and Joelie Sanguya led the station visits to all three sites.

Travel to weather stationsTravel to the three weather stations (by snowmobile) covers several hundred kilometers in the fjord environments of Baffin Island. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

Esa QillaqClyde River-based researcher Esa Qillaq changes an anemometer at the northern station. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

Station maintenanceStation maintenance is a team effort. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

Also in 2011, Shari Gearheard continues interviews with local expert forecasters and other Elders, and Glen Liston completes first phases of modeling work. Activity reports to follow.

In September 2011, the entire site content was made available in Inuktitut as well as English. Visitors can now toggle between the two languages.

2012

In 2012, Gearheard continued to work with local experts to understand how weather information is used in the community, especially by those people travelling out on the land. Interviews and workshops with residents explored the following questions: 1) Where do you get your weather information? 2) How often do you check the weather? 3) What are you looking for when you check the weather? 4) What is the most important and useful weather information? These and other questions are helping the project understand what kinds of weather information, presented in what way, are of most use for local residents and how better weather information can be provided.

Sivugat PalluqClyde River Elders, like Sivugat Palluq, advise the Silalirijiit Project. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

In May of 2012 Elder, Liston, and Huntington returned for another round of maintenance to the weather stations and to participate in workshops regarding local weather knowledge. In these workshops the focus was on clarifying Inuktitut terminology for specific weather phenomena such as wind speeds, wind direction, and visibility conditions.

Maintenance visits to the weather stations in this year showed that the stations continued to perform well and were standing up to Arctic conditions. Only the Akuliaqattak site had some minor polar bear and raven damage, but with no impact to data service. Weather information from the sites continues to be available to the public in English and Inuktitut at the website and via daily local phone recording.

Packing upPacking up after a tea break while traveling to the weather stations. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Cabin stayIlkoo Angutikjuak (left), Kelly Elder, and Esa Qillaq during one of our cabin stays while traveling to the weather stations. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Esa QillaqEsa Qillaq, one of the project leads, is our expert guide while on the land. Here Esa is performing maintenance on the Ailaktalik station. Photo credit: Kelly Elder

2013

In this final year of the project the research team is drafting reports and publications from the research including results of environmental models by Liston that show weather patterns in the region. The results of the models align closely with local understandings of things like wind patterns, impacts of complex topography on winds, and areas where snow is deposited or eroded away from the land or ice due to wind.

In the community, Gearheard and local researchers conducted a series of interviews with younger hunters to document their understanding of weather patterns, how they use weather information, and how traditional knowledge of weather is being passed on.

Replacing anemometersEsa Qillaq (left), Shari Gearheard, and Kelly Elder replacing anemometers at the Akuliaqattak station. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

In May of 2013, Liston, Elder, and Huntington visited the community for annual maintenance of the weather stations. Led as usual by Esa Qillaq, the main local lead for the project, the visits to the stations went well. New anemometers were installed at the Akuliaqattak site and some other normal maintenance was completed. This year, new automated cameras were installed at all three weather stations. Esa and Ilkoo Angutikjuak, also our local collaborator and Elder, advised on where to point the cameras to capture ice and weather conditions through the year. At this point the cameras are not “live,” but will automatically take two photos a day until they are downloaded in a year's time. Live video feed is being considered for the future.

FjordsThe beautiful fjords of Baffin Island are a privilege to visit as part of the project. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

Also in May 2013, an IMAX film team documented the project in Clyde River. The upcoming IMAX film, set to be released in early 2014, captures the long-time collaboration of Gearheard and Angutikjuak. As part of the story, the film crew visited the Akuliaqattak station with the researchers and filmed project activities.

Silalirijiit teamThe Silalirijiit team being filmed for an IMAX production. Photo credit: Henry Huntington

Project team membersProject team members Henry Huntington (left), Joelie Sanguya, and Glen Liston. Photo credit: Kelly Elder

2014

Although the Silalirijiit Project officially ended in 2013, project momentum in the community and within the project team is still very strong. We are happy to report that we are not done yet! With encouragement and support from the Hamlet of Clyde River, the project was able to secure funds from the Government of Nunavut to keep the weather stations running through at least 2015. Kelly Elder and Shari Gearheard also received RAPID funding from NSF for Kelly to return to work with Esa on station maintenance in May 2014 and for Shari to continue working with Elders and hunters on Inuit knowledge of weather for this year. Meanwhile, the team is submitting a new funding proposal, hoping to continue the exciting research and collaborative work of Silalirijiit.

Elder Kelly on his way to station​Kelly Elder on his way to Akuliaqattak station. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

checking instruments at weather stationEsa Qillaq (left) and Kelly Elder run checks on instruments at the Akuliaqattak weather station. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

In May 2014, Kelly and Glen returned to meet with our local research team members and complete our annual weather station maintenance. As usual, travel to the stations was an opportunity to learn more about how Inuit hunters read weather and ice conditions. Esa hunted along the way and was successful in catching a seal.

Esa Qillaq catches a seal during trip to stationEsa Qillaq catches a seal during the trip to Akuliaqattak station. Local members of the research team like Esa have taught the visiting scientists about many aspects of weather and ice during trips to the weather stations over the course of the project—sharing and demonstrating detailed knowledge of the environment as we travel. Exchanging knowledge between visiting scientists and hunters happens best when we are all on the land together. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

During the station maintenance, we were able to download the data from the automated cameras that we installed last year at each station. Two of the cameras operated perfectly, taking one photo per day successfully for exactly a whole year. Only the Silasiutitalik camera had some difficulty—we only captured 6 months of photos from that location, apparently due to battery failure. The photos show a very interesting picture of annual weather and ice formation and breakup over 2013-2014. These photo time series will be available at www.clyderiverweather.org shortly and the cameras were reset at the stations for another year.

working on weather stationEsa (left), Kelly (centre), and Glen working on weather station maintenance. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

​The team is now working on their new funding proposal, as well as completing publications from project findings.

2015

With the support of the Hamlet of Clyde River, we continue to operate the Clyde River weather station network. We have also completed more interviews with local Elders and hunters who are weather experts and for several months worked with three hunters who kept a log of their activities along with weather conditions.

clearing built-up snowEsa Qillaq clearing built-up snow off of the Akuliaqattak station. Photo credit: Kelly Elder

In May of 2015, Kelly returned to Clyde River and along with Esa and Shari, completed another year of weather station maintenance. Once again the stations were all in great shape and the maintenance visits went well. We downloaded another year’s worth of photos from the automated cameras and we’ll post those as soon as possible on www.clyderiverweather.org. Unfortunately, the Akuliaqattak station had a great deal of snow accumulation on its camera, so there are a few months worth of ‘blank’ photos from that location. But overall it is another interesting set of photos and all cameras were reset for another year.

collecting iceberg ice for drinking waterStopping to collect iceberg ice for drinking water on our way home from Ailaktalik station maintenance visit. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

annual maintenance check for stationKelly Elder and Esa Qillaq work on the annual maintenance check for the Ailaktalik station. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

We are still waiting on funding decisions for Silalirijiit, hoping we’ll be successful for more collaboration and research in this exciting project. Meanwhile, we are working on writing up results and continue to operate the stations with the generous support of the Hamlet of Clyde River and community residents—Qujannamiik! (Thank You!).

Check out our weather station network in near-real time at www.clyderiverweather.org.

Last Updated: 
Wed, 08/12/2015

Weather station installation teamIlkoo Angutikjuak (foreground left) leads the weather station installation team to Silasiutitalik at the end of Clyde Inlet. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Clyde InletSpectacular views in Clyde Inlet. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Clyde River eldersClyde River Elder Sivugat Palluq (right) explains wind and weather conditions. Clyde River Elder Jacopie Iqalukjuak (center) and CSU scientist Glen Liston (left) look on. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Glen ListonGlen Liston works on installing anemometers at Akuliaqattak. Photo credit: Shari Gearheard

Installation teamThe installation team for the Ailaktalik station. Photo credit: Glen Liston