Siku girl takes a quick photo look-back to 2021

2021 is already three and a half months in the past but it’s taken me that long to process the year: personally, the past year brought big changes, the departure from my long-time job at Nunatsiaq News to a new role during the fall at CBC North. Not to overlook the August death of friend and former boss Jim Bell to cancer.

That being said I want to share some photos which capture some important landmarks.

First let’s talk a bit about Iqaluit’s water crisis, which isn’t over yet.

On Oct. 12 I looked out my window at CBC North’s office in Iqaluit and photographed people going in and out of the Arctic Ventures store to get water. A few minutes before we had received a city order not to consume any water from the tap. I took the photos at the top because somewhere in my head I was thinking the water situation could develop into a crisis, like any aircraft which makes an unannounced landing in Iqaluit. Soon we were getting water deliveries in bulk and bottles or from the river.

Within 10 days of the start of the water crisis, I started to develop a severe, now chronic, allergic response to over-chlorination (probably) that continues today and leaves me on heavy antihistamines and possible more treatment to come. I am sure others in Iqaluit have similarly suffered, as complaints about rashes surface on social media. I’ll look forward to learning more about the health impacts of the water on people like me.

Meanwhile there were meetings and a federal election to get through during the fall of 2021, along with cooler weather and shorter days.

So far I have been obliged to spend 2022 out of the North while I try to heal from the water’s impact and elude COVID.

Keep you posted on my next steps.

The way it was: the winter of of 2020-21 delivered heat to many in Nunavut, Nunavik

You could call it Arctic warming: temperatures in Iqaluit, Nunavut were overall  +7 C higher during December, January and February than they were during these same three months between 1991 and 2020, as this map by Patrick Duplessis of Dalhousie University shows.

Duplessis found weather records show that average temperatures over this past winter were up to seven degrees Celsius higher than the average temperature over those same months between 1991 and 2020.

The significant positive anomalies during the winter of 2020-21:

+7 C for Iqaluit

+6.5 C for Kuujjuaq

+5.4 C for Clyde River

+3.5 C for Rankin Inlet

+4.9 C for Resolute Bay

Here you can see the anomalies or temperature variations from the average during the month of February. (Image courtesy of Patrick Duplessis)

February weather helped feed the three-month anomalies in Canada’s Arctic.

In February alone, Kuujjuaraapik and Kuujjuaq showed an increase of more than five degrees C over the normal average temperatures for the month. Iqaluit had a 7.5 C degree increase and Resolute Bay was 2.7 C warmer.

Also during that month, new records for daily high temperatures were set in Baker Lake, Gjoa Haven, Resolute Bay, Grise Fiord, Pond inlet Rankin Inlet and Arviat.

Three-month anomalies fed by record-breaking daily Arctic weather in February

In Naujaat, the temperature topped off at -5 C on Feb. 8 beating the previous old record from 2010 was -14.5 C.

And on Feb. 9 a high of -11.7 C in Resolute Bay set a new record high that date, The previous record was -13.9 C in 1960.

Feb. 11 also saw records tumble in Nunavut’s most northerly community of Grise Fiord where the high temperature of -6 C beat the old record of -10 C set 35 years in 1986. And in Grise Fiord it grew even warmer on Feb. 12, with the high of 2.5 C beating the old record of -9.6 C from 2011.

As well, in Kuujjuaq, record highs and lows were dropped on Feb. 6: the maximum temperature reached -0.2 C (old record  -0.6 C set in 1958) and the minimum temperature was only  -3.7 C (old record of  -11.1 C set in 1958.)

Heat in the Arctic, cold to the south

Meanwhile, amidst these warmer than usual Arctic temperatures in mid-February, the southern continental United States saw frigid weather that produced big snowfalls over Texas, paralyzed much of the southern states and led to the death of nearly 80 people.

The cause: a meteorological event which meteorologists call a Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event. This one was located about 30 kilometres over the North Pole, said the World Meteorological Organization.

The warming event led to a weakening of the polar vortex, an area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the North, the WMO said.

And this weakness allowed the cold air to slip down into the mid-latitudes and warmer air to enter the Arctic…