Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Last of the Ice

Emma Micalizzi

The last of the ice on the bay.

It’s July and Iqaluit is starting to show the signs of what I suppose an arctic summer is.  Intrinsically I have no feelings as to what season it is, but I think that I rely on cues that aren’t here to tell the season, like leaves on trees and warm evenings.  Some times when a cool wind blows and it’s been overcast for days, it feels like autumn is here and winter won’t be far behind (which may be more true than I’d like to admit).  But for the most part in the past couple weeks, temperatures have reached or passed 10 degrees.  The tundra has turned green, the bay has melted, and the bugs are out in numbers that are very alarming (my bug jacket has become my most valuable possession), so as far as I can tell that means it's summer.  Yesterday the temperatures went up to 16 degrees, which is the warmest day that we’ve had.  After being accustomed to the temperatures here, it felt hot and I managed to gather up the courage to go swimming in the Apex River.  The water was cold enough to make my muscles cramp up, but the swim was very refreshing. 

A tufted saxifrage (Saxifraga caespitosa) in bloom.
We have seen flowers on almost all of the species that we are monitoring, and the hills are dotted with yellows and pinks from Maydell's oxytrope (Oxytropis maydelliana) and arctic fireweed (Chamerion latifolium), among others.  Now that the colourful flowers are visible, we’re seeing that some species that we tirelessly hunted for a month ago, such as arctic harebell (Campanula uniflora), are growing everywhere!

Arctic bladder campion (Silene involucrata) blooming.
The summer weather has also meant that I have been able to attend some events held in Iqaluit, such as throat singing performances and demonstrations of the traditional Inuit lifestyle on Nunavut Day.  I have enjoyed learning a bit about Inuit culture, although I have yet to retain any Inuktitut.   
I'm also enjoying having people to go out with.  The apartments that I’m staying in have had other researchers here the whole time, and this has provided a unique experience and the opportunity to meet some interesting people, hear about their research, and make some friends.  I think that the rest of the summer is going to go quickly and be filled with memorable experiences.

A Wheatear guarding its nest.

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