On 22 January 1992, Cynthia Hill, Chair of the Arctic Institute Board of Directors, Board member Robert Blair and Executive Director Mike Robinson attended the hearings of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on a Renewed Canada in Edmonton, Alberta. This federal committee was formed in September 1991 to review the Government of Canada's constitutional proposals set out in a discussion paper entitled Shaping Canada's Future Together. On behalf of the Arctic Institute of North America, Cynthia Hill presented the following statement to the committee.
The high subarctic forest-tundra of northwestern Canada : position, width, and vegetation gradients in relation to climate
La Roi, G.H.
Arctic, v. 45, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 1-9, ill., maps
ASTIS record 32021
A phytogeoclimatic study of the high subarctic region of Canada between Hudson Bay and the Cordillera at the northern Yukon-Mackenzie border was undertaken to provide a verifiable and quantitative synthesis of forest-tundra vegetation ecology. Three field seasons of vegetation and terrain studies provided ground truth for a grid of 1314 black-and-white air photos that cover ca. 24% of the forest-tundra and adjacent low Subarctic and low Arctic. Air photos were analyzed for percentage cover of nine vegetation-terrain types, bedrock and parent materials, landforms, and elevations. The forest-tundra, as bounded by the 1000:1 and 1:1000 tree:upland tundra cover isolines, spans an average 145 ± 72 km (median 131 km) and increases in width from northwest to southeast. The transition from 10:1 to 1:10 tree:upland tundra cover occupies one-fourth to one-half the area of the forest-tundra. Regional slope of the land probably accounts for much of the variation in width of the forest-tundra. Southern outliers of forest-tundra in the northwest are found mainly in areas of high elevation. Across much of the northwest, steep vegetation gradients occur near the northern limit of trees. North of Great Slave Lake, steep vegetation gradients shift from the northern to the southern half of the forest-tundra and maintain this position eastward to Hudson Bay. The forest-tundra of the northwest receives roughly three-fourths the mean annual net radiation available to the southeast and central districts.
Geochemistry and organic contaminants in the sediments of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada
Arctic, v. 45, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 10-19, maps
ASTIS record 32022
A study was carried out in the summer of 1987 to determine the geochemistry and distribution of trace elements, PCBs and 16 other chlorinated hydrocarbons in sediments from selected areas in Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada. Sediment cores were collected at three sampling stations in the west basin of the lake on a transect from the Slave River delta to the outlet of the Mackenzie River. The geotechnical composition of the sediments showed the deposition of similar material at all sampling stations. Sediment dating indicated a very high sedimentation rate (46.6 g/cm²/year) at a 110 m water depth in the vicinity of the Slave River delta and mixing of bottom sediments at the southwestern part of the lake. The concentrations of trace elements (Cu, Ni, Co, Cr, V, Pb and Zn) were uniform in all sediment profiles. However, surficial sediments were enriched by arsenic, Canadian standard CLB-1 containing 51 PCB congeners was used in the determination of PCBs in the sediment. Thirty-three PCB congeners were detected and their concentrations determined in selected sections of sediment cores. The most abundant congeners were 15 and 18, 44, 49, 52 and 101 (IUPAC numbering) with maximum concentrations 3.52, 2.68, 2.44, 6.20 and 2.44, 6.20 and 2.13 ng/g respectively. The concentration pattern of PCBs in Great Slave Lake sediments indicated considerably greater quantities of lower than higher chlorinated biphenyls. Several congeners, particularly those having 7-10 chlorine atoms, were determined in concentrations smaller than 0.20 ng/g only at one sediment depth. Hexachlorobutadiene, 1, 2, 3, 4-tetrachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene, alpha-HCH, hexachlorobenzene, pentachloroanisol and alpha-chlordane were present at all stations at different sediment depths. Maximum concentrations of the 16 chlorinated hydrocarbons analyzed in Great Slave Lake sediments were between 0.08 and 1.04 ng/g. The concentrations of PCBs and other chlorinated hydrocarbons were about two orders of magnitude lower than those in Lake Ontario sediments.
Noise and vibration levels in artificial polar bear dens as related to selected petroleum exploration and developmental activities
Arctic, v. 45, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 20-24, 2 maps
ASTIS record 32023
The noise and vibration levels resulting from seismic testing, drilling and transport were measured in artificial polar bear dens of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It was concluded that the dry and wind-beaten arctic snow muffles both sound and vibrations extremely well and it seems unlikely that polar bears in their dens will be disturbed by the type of petroleum-related activities measured here, providing those activities do not take place within 100 m of the den.
Sediment concentration, particle-particle morphology and size data are used to identify the processes that control the distribution and dynamics of suspended sediment during the open water season in the McBeth Fiord, Baffin Island. Dominant processes include hemipelagic sedimentation below river plumes and sediment resuspension by wind-driven waves, internal waves and bottom currents, including those related to deep-water renewal. Suspended particles are composed of unflocculated mineral grains, planktonic detritus - such as from diatoms, radiolarian and dinoflagellates - and large particles of marine snow composed of mucoid stringers, fecal pellets, floccules, agglomerates and resuspended clay clasts. Strong offshore winds are capable of temporarily removing the surface seasonal layer in the fiord. That in turn may initiate the autumn cycle of deep-water exchange. Replacement of deep water within McBeth Fiord by water from the Baffin Shelf can also introduce shelf sediment to the fiord and cause the resuspension of sediment covering the outer sill complex. Alternatively, strong onshore winds can push the surface layer to the head of the fiord and significantly increase the surface layer volume of the inner fiord. Internal wave trains associated with such a surface layer surge and travelling in a landward direction can impact on the front of the delta situated at the head of the fiord and initiate resuspension of bottom sediments.
Like many of his contemporaries, Lieutenant Bedford Pim, of the Royal Navy, believed in the existence of an "open polar sea" beyond a zone of coastal ice around the margins of the Arctic Ocean. On the basis of this, in fall 1951 he postulated that Sir John Franklin's expedition had sailed north through Wellington Channel and then set a course across the "Polar Sea" directly for Bering Strait, but had then become entangled in an ice-bound chain of islands extending from what are now the Canadian Arctic Islands to the vicinity of Ostrov Vrangel'ya. Having been refused Admiralty approval for his plan to mount a small overland expedition to Chukotka, from whence he proposed to push north across the sea ice in search of Franklin's ships, Pim was able to gain the support of Lady Franklin and the Royal Geographical Society. He travelled to St. Petersburg in December 1851 but after considerable delay was refused permission by the Russian authorities to proceed farther east. The main stated reason for this refusal was that the Russians had somehow translated Pim's plans for a small expedition of two or three men into an operation that would necessitate 1200-1500 sledge dogs; it was anticipated that such an operation would seriously disrupt the economy of the Kolyna basin and cause real hardship to the local people. One can only speculate as to the reasons for the lack of Russian cooperation; one suspects, on the basis of Pim's own account, that the tone of his remarks to the tsar during a personal audience and the implied lack of confidence in the tsar's commitment to arrange for a search to be mounted along the arctic coasts of Siberia for wreckage or survivors from the Franklin expedition may have contributed significantly to the rejection of his proposal.
Mortality of bison in the area of what is now Wood Buffalo National Park was recorded in records of Fort Chipewyan for the years 1821, 1823, and 1831. There is oral tradition in the Fort Smith area that many bison died in the Slave River lowlands during one summer later in the 19th century. The records of sudden death among bison during the summer resemble features of anthrax mortality that occurred among bison in the same general area between 1962 and 1978. This suggests that anthrax may have a much longer history in the region than recognized previously.
Trading posts along the Yukon River : Noochuloghoyet trading post in historical context
Lehman Turck, D.L.
Arctic, v. 45, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 51-61, ill., maps
ASTIS record 32027
Between 1868 and 1900, American companies established a series of trading posts along a 32 km stretch of the Yukon River immediately west of Noochuloghoyet Point, a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Yukon and Tanana rivers. This study makes use of written historical accounts, historical maps, and archaeological evidence to trace the founding and locational movements of these posts. Findings indicate that in the early interior of Alaska rivers were the major transportation routes, and the English and the Russians established trading posts at major river confluences, which became centers for trade. Later, the Americans pursued patterns inherited earlier from the English and the Russians. Political considerations provided the original reason for discovery and some constraints; nevertheless economic and environmental factors appear to have been the more important considerations in the exploration and development of the Yukon River valley. Cultural considerations were only important in that they bracketed the manner in which the Euro-Americans operated.
The interest in clothing as a powerful item for cultural inquiry has recently increased among anthropologists. This has to do with its dual connection to habitat and cultural identity, allowing for ecological as well as symbolic analysis. The identification of contexts in which identity is communicated by means of clothing is considered an additional dimension to the study of clothing proper. Clothing is viewed as the most efficient means of non-verbal communication of cultural identity as well as culture-specific values and standards. The communicative power of clothing is especially salient in various inter-ethnic contexts. Referring to the Sami in northern Fennoscandia, clothing appears as an effective ethnic marker. At the same time the vitality of clothing as a material object is evident.
Pliocene marine transgressions of northern Alaska : circumarctic correlations and paleoclimatic interpretations
Arctic, v. 45, no. 1, Mar. 1992, p. 74-89, ill., 2 maps
ASTIS record 32029
At least three marine transgressions of Piliocene age are recorded by littoral to inner-shelf sediments of the Gubik Formation, which mantles the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska. The three recognized transgressions were eustatic high sea levels that, from oldest to youngest, are informally named the Colvillian, Bigbendian, and Fishcreekian transgressions. The geochronology is based up amino acid geochemistry, paleomagnetic studies, vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, and strontium isotope age estimates. Pollen, plant macrofossils, and marine vertebrate and inventebrate remains indicate that these transgressions occurred when the Arctic was at least intermittently much warmer than it is now. The Colvillian transgression took place at sometime between 2.48 and 2.7 Ma, when adjacent coastal areas supported an open boreal forest or spruce-birch-woodland with scattered pine and rare fir and hemlock. The Bigbendian transgression occurred about 2.48 Ma. Climate conditions were probably slightly cooler than during the Colvillian transgression, but probably too warm for permafrost and too warm for even seasonal sea ice in the region. Nearby vegetation was open spruce-birch woodland or parkland, possibly with rare scattered pine. The Fishcreekian transgression took place sometime between 2.14 and 2.48 Ma and was also characterized by warm marine conditions without sea ice. During the waning stages of this transgression, however, terrestrial conditions were relatively cool, and coastal vegetation was herbaceous tundra with scattered larch trees in the vicinity. Other marine units from this time period occur around the Arctic Basin. The three oldest transgressions recognized from the Seward Peninsula may be broadly correlated with the three Piliocene transgresions of the Arctic Coastal Plain. The Tusatuvayam beds in Kamchatka possibly correlate with one of the two younger transgressions of northern Alaska. The non-marine Worth Point Formation of Banks Island may be younger than all three of the transgressions of the Arctic Coastal Plain, and marine sediment of the Beaufort Formation on Meighen Island is slightly older than the Colvillian transgression. None of the Piliocene marine units on Baffin Island can be confidently correlated with the high sea level events of northern Alaska. The upper Kap Kobenhavn Formation and the upper Loden Elv Formation of Greenland most likely correlate with the Fishcreekian transgression.
Few Inuit have displayed the same wanderlust and indefatigable spirit of exploration as the Alaskan Inupiat Natkusiak. As Vilhjalmur Stefansson's primary guide and travelling companion on the noted explorer's two major arctic expeditions, the Stefansson-Anderson Expedition of 1908-12 and the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-18, Natkusiak logged thousands of miles by foot, ship and dog sled. While Stefansson provides few details of Natkusiak's personal life, his voluminous works do contain frequent passages of praise for his companion. In Stefansson's first major publication, My Life with the Eskimo (1913), the author compliments Natkusiak as one of the best Eskimo hunters he has ever known (p. 151), as an individual with the spirit of an adventurer and investigator (p. 155), and as an extremely competent man in everything that concerns making a living in the Arctic (p. 339). In September 1911, when Anderson brought news that Natkusiak had temporarily left the service of the Stefansson-Anderson Expedition, Stefansson wrote: "This was a very disappointing piece of news, for in all my long travels and in everything of difficulty which I had had to undertake in the past three years, Natkusiak had always been my mainstay and in many cases the only man on whom I could rely" (p. 339). [This profile pays tribute to a great Inuit explorer.]
[This profile celebrates the accomplishments of the Scott Polar Research Institute and its former head librarian Harry King.] ... King's career and his relationship with the library of the Scott Polar Research Institute and with the hundreds of polar scholars, scientists and enthusiasts from all over the world are probably best summed up by the late Alan Cooke, who in a letter shortly before his death in 1989, wrote: "I know virtually nothing of his [Harry King's] biographical details, although I was his assistant librarian from 1967-1975 and, of course, I already knew him well when I was a graduate student in the SPRI, 1963-1965. I think of him as knowledgeable, patient, humorous, full of good will. He is the best kind of specialist librarian, thoroughly familiar with the literature in his care. His long experience of aiding scholars in every field of polar study gave him an unrivalled familiarity with the whole range of polar literature, and his book on Antarctica is abundant evidence of his special interest in that region." ...