Here in Grise Fiord, at 76 degrees 24' N, you are at the top of the world, where the climate and seasons have a unique rhythm. At these latitudes, we have two seasons: the "light" season from May to August, when the sun never sets, and the "dark" season from October to mid-February, when the sun never rises.
Wintertime is cold. Temperatures in January can dip to -30 C (-22 F) and often to -40 C (-40 F). The ground remains snow-covered from late September to early June. Moonlight on the snow and a lingering twilight help to guide us outside.
For 10 months of the year, the sea around Grise Fiord is frozen; break-up usually isn't complete until mid-August. Until then, we use the sea ice as a highway for travel by snowmobile or dog team.
In July, temperatures peak at 3.9 C (39 F) and sometimes reach 10 C (50 F) in the sun - you feel even warmer under the 24-hour sunlight and blue skies. Don't forget to look down, to admire our Arctic flowers. These include pink louseworts, similar to snapdragons, moss campion, purple saxifrage or fireweed and yellow Arctic poppies.
And expect to see people on the move at all hours of the day and "night."
By August, the sun is lower on the horizon and evenings become chilly. Even in July, you may see snow fly. Yet we are still very concerned about the future our polar climate and the impact the global warming will have on our community, its environment and wildlife.
We have observed growing light along the horizon during the dark months of the year, like a rainbow or city lights. We have also noticed disturbing changes in our wildlife, and, although we are still ice-bound most of the year, predictions call for an ice-free Arctic in the lifetime of our children.
Many scientists use Grise Fiord as a stepping-stone to research camps on Ellesmere Island and other High Arctic Islands. They study the environment, wildlife and fossils, which show that millions of years ago our polar home was up to 15 C warmer than today.
As residents of Nunavut's most northerly community, we have a say in what research goes on in lands and seas around us, and we will be very involved in International Polar Year activities during 2007 and 2008.