In this present paper I will comment upon and evaluate the initial report of the Working Group on Science for the North entitled Ethical Principles for the Conduct of Research in the North (MAB 1977a).
The voting patterns in Greenland from 1971 are studied. The two current issues discussed are Home Rule and mineral and oil resources.
A study was conducted to measure the toxicity of oil spills to Arctic amphipods. Exposure to oil resulted in death, especially if animals physically entered the slicks. Arctic diesel was more toxic than Prudhoe crude oil. Toxicity of Prudhoe crude oil was associated with the paraffinic and aromatic components. Exposure to the tarry asphaltic fraction of crude oil did not result in amphipod mortality.
Spillage of oil into the Beaufort Sea in the course of exploration and exploitation of offshore resources may occur at an estimated rate of 20 milligrams per square metre per year, or about one-fifth the rate of spillage into the Mediterranean Sea. Overall rates of degradation and dispersion of spilled oil under the conditions prevailing in the Beaufort Sea are however likely to be significantly slower than under the conditions in the Mediterranean. The various input, degradation and dispersion rates may be interrelated in the form of a simple algebraic equation. From current estimates of these rates it is suggested that standing concentrations of oil in the Beaufort Sea could in time become comparable to those in the Mediterranean.
Caribou select areas of relatively shallow snow for winter feeding, and do so on at least two levels: broad area and microsite. They do not normally select sites with snow-packs having mean integrated Ram hardness values in excess at 85. However, in areas of relatively shallow hard-packed snow, which is easily fractured into slab-like pieces, they can obtain access to vegetation with less expenditure of energy than Ram hardness values alone would suggest. Alpine feeding areas in the Porcupine Lake basin of northeastern Alaska had this type of snow-pack in the winter of 1972-73. In typical taiga winter range, caribou use areas where the snow depth is less than 50 centimetres.
Tundra ponds are ubiquitous features in the High Arctic. The water balance of one such pond situated on Ellesmere Island was found to be dependent upon the groundwater supplies from the internally-drained basin in which it was located. For the basin as a whole, evaporation constituted an important component of the water balance, accounting for over 90 per cent of the rainfall over a summer period of less than six weeks. Changes occurring in the quantity of water in the pond in response to rainfall were found to depend upon the degree of saturation of the active layer of the underlying permafrost.
Arctic and temperate-latitude tundra plants must make efficient use of the growing season, because it is very short. A variety of leaf-development strategies permit growth in the cool summers. ... Winter phenology was observed under field conditions for 27 of 33 angiosperm species found on King Christian Island. ... The full significance of overwintering leaf condition and the variability of this pattern within the High Arctic needs further investigation.
A large programme was carried out during the summer of 1976 by faculty members and graduate students from the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and Department of Geological Sciences. The research included studies of various aspects of Quaternary geology and chronology, investigations of micropalaeontological fauna from raised marine sediments, studies of weathering and of the role and significance of tors on hill summits (sometimes associated with erratics), and coring of lake sediments. Associated research included studies of cliff erosion, of changes in soils through time, on associations between microclimate and vegetation, and on Eskimo sites and archaeology. Research was concentrated in four primary areas: Broughton Island, including the area south to Canso Channel and north to Kivitoo; Pangnirtung and Kingnait fiords; Sunneshine Fiord and Cape Dyer; and the fiords and bays of the northern Hall Peninsula.
During 1975 and 1976, research staff and students occupied the base camp of the Icefield Ranges Research Project (IRRP) at Kluane Lake (61 N, 138 30 W) from early April to mid-October. Altogether 126 individuals representing universities and institutes in Canada and the United States made use of the field research facilities during these two years. A decrease from 3,200 mandays of accommodation and subsistence in 1975 to 2,799 in 1976 reflected increasing difficulties in obtaining funds for field research in the North. Adverse weather in the St. Elias Mountains in 1975 caused several projects to be severely restricted. Poor radio conditions and aircraft operational problems provided further difficulties. At one time both of AINA's ski-equiped Helio-Courier aircraft were out of commission. ... In 1976, however, generally good weather conditions prevailed, radio communications were vastly improved, the aircraft remained airborne and the projects prospered. Several improvements were made to the base camp itself. ... In cooperation with Parks Canada and Environment Canada, a year-round meteorological programme was carried out during 1975 and 1976 at the base camp by the camp Manager, A. Williams. ... [The following research programs are described: High Altitude Physiology Studies (HAPS), Glacier inventory of St. Elias Mountains, Glacier geophysics projects, Environmental controls on geomorphic processes, and Study of small mammals.]