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Climate Change Adaptation

What is Adaptation?

Taking steps to respond to the effects of climate change

Adaptation is the way we change our behaviour to deal with the impacts of climate change. In Nunavut, that can mean anything from finding new hunting routes as sea levels change to altering the way we build our homes as permafrost thaws. 

People all over the world have started to adjust their lifestyles to fit changing climates. The North will face more challenges than most regions when it comes to adapting for climate change, since it is already suffering the most impact.

It’s important to start thinking now about the affects climate change will have on your community. Nunavummiut have already seen direct impacts, such as changes in ice condition and snow cover.

Challenging questions are being asked: how do we adapt to a land where wildlife habitats are changing and hunters can no longer reach game? How do we save our roads and buildings, which were built for a land of stable permafrost? Although there may not be perfect answers to these questions, there are many ways that your community can adapt to climate change:

Have alternate routes to reach wildlife

It will be harder to reach game by traditional routes as ice and snow cover continues to change. Plan ahead, be prepared, and think of alternate, safer routes to reach game.

Be ready for rapid weather change on the land

If you are going on the land, make sure you have enough survival gear to last through harsh weather, even if the weather is good when you leave your community. This includes food, shelter, water, and warm clothing.

Navigation tools like a Global Positioning System (GPS) or a SPOT personal location device can be useful when dealing with rapid weather change. Carrying a contact device, like satellite phone or radio is also a good idea: you can hear weather updates and call for help in emergencies. You should also tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

Prepare your home as much as possible

Buildings and houses that have been built for a land of permafrost will see change, such as shifting. This can cause problems to stilts and poles that support houses. This change will not happen overnight, but it is still important to prepare buildings for the future.

When building a house, it is important to use steel pipes or beams that are drilled and anchored into bedrock. This method causes less shifting and results in more stable structures. With better stability, comes less long-term maintenance requirements for a building (for example, cracking drywall, door realignments, etc.). Also, using screw jacks to support buildings can help with the minor ground movement that comes with changing permafrost.

Educate yourself on climate change

A simple way to adapt is to understand the effects of climate change. Become aware of the impacts climate change will have on your community and start making your own adaptation plan. Take a look through the Nunavut Climate Change Centre website to learn more about climate change impacts and adaptation methods in Nunavut. 

The Government of Nunavut has been working in partnership with our communities, local and national organizations, universities, and governments to help Nunavummiut adapt to climate change. Some of our most recent projects include:

  • Developing climate change action plans for five pilot communities in Nunavut
  • Developing a planning tool to help Nunavut communities with their adaptation planning
  • Providing training opportunities and employment to Nunavut youth and community members in climate change projects
  • Looking at the water supplies in six Nunavut communities to see if any are at risk
  • Monitoring permafrost in eleven communities
  • Developing landscape hazard mapping to support community planning
  • Working with elders and using local knowledge to focus climate change issues at a community level
  • Creating materials to give Nunavummiut important climate change information