Promoting Safe Travel in the Face of Climate Change

posted: 18/02/2020

Raglan Mine, located in the extreme north of the province of Quebec, is currently participating in an initiative in Salluit, Deception Bay, and Kangiqsujuaq to help promote safer travel in the face of climate change, given its more severe impact in northern environments.

Ice cover plays a significant role for the safe travel of local communities and industry. The communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq rely on ice cover to facilitate their traditional activities. Raglan Mine operates expeditions to transport mineral extracts via Deception Bay. Climate change is rendering this travel increasingly risky due to inconsistencies in ice cover and the challenge of measuring ice thickness.

Raglan Mine began collaborating with various regional organizations to establish a sea ice monitoring project in 2015. The project established a framework to document seasonal sea ice in three bays located in northern Nunavik using satellite images, time-lapse cameras, underwater sonars, as well as traditional Inuit knowledge to ensure a broad understanding of the ice system. 

The monitoring of traditional trails in the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq was implemented too (Raglan Mine is situated between these two communities). These traditional trails include both in-land stretches where snow on the ground is essential and sea-ice sections where ice thickness is an important factor.

A website organizes and makes available to communities, industry, and researchers the data collected during the project, including ice freezing and melting sequences (and their respective dates), ice cover growth and ice thickness. This information supports an improved understanding of the diverse conditions of coastal ice, which is useful for developing and reinforcing thermodynamic models of sea ice to improve the safety of its users.

In addition to sea ice monitoring, the cameras installed in Deception Bay transmit photos by satellite hourly and are made available on the Cameras at Marine Infrastructures in Nunavik (CAIMAN) website.

Anyone can visit the website, view the latest photos and read environmental observations, such as temperature, water level, humidity, pressure, condition, wind speed and direction, which inform and guide safe travel decisions. In addition to cameras on remote trails, an emergency button is available and, when pressed, a photograph of the individual in distress is sent to the authorities in Salluit or Kangiqsujuaq.

Cameras installed on remote trails come equipped with an emergency button, which, when pressed, takes a photo of the individual in distress and notifies the authorities in Salluit or Kangiqsujuaq.

Community collaboration and ownership

The project is a collaboration between the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), the northern villages of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq, and Raglan Mine. And it was supported by a Polar Knowledge Canada grant called “Safe Passage.”

This project would not have been possible without the involvement of all the guides and land users. Inuit from the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq assisted with ice and snow measurements and making local resources (e.g. boats, divers, snowmobiles, etc.) available to facilitate equipment installation.

The research group trained additional local resources on camera installation and maintenance, data retrieval, measurement protocols, and the use of satellite imagery to help communities take ownership of ice monitoring in the long-term.