Greenland elders and high school students offer perspectives on climate change and science

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Abstract

[1] KANGERLUSSUAQ, GREENLAND—This small town in central western Greenland, which has a population of about 650 and a major airstrip dating from World War II, is a center for scientific research and a starting point for scientists working in the region and on Greenland's ice sheet to study climate change and other issues. The town, just north of the Arctic Circle, sits at the edge of the 190-kilometer-long Kangerlussuaq Fjord and straddles the Qinnguata Kuussua River estuary, whose source water is the Russell Glacier, about 20 kilometers to the east. Between Kanger—as some refer to the town—and the glacier, some Eskimo-Kalaallit elders held a traditional gathering last month and also offered their perspectives on climate change during an impromptu 14 July meeting with high school students and other visitors. The evening before that meeting, Ole Olsvig, Kurt Olsen, Avaruna Mathaeussen, and other high schoolers from Greenland were in a makeshift classroom at the back of a renovated former U.S. Army barracks in Kanger, which had served as a U.S. military base. The students, who said they care deeply about their traditional culture and also are very aware of recent changes in climate, were helping to make presentations about their summer science projects. A total of 16 high schoolers from Greenland, 3 from Denmark, and 5 from the United States were there, participating in Joint Science Education Project (JSEP) activities; JSEP is an international collaborative polar science education effort between Greenland, Denmark, and the United States that receives support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

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