U of S professor's work in Arctic featured in documentary series

University of Saskatchewan professor Philip Loring and his team's work chronicling the challenges facing Arctic villagers due to the effects of climate change is being featured in a new short-format documentary series.

Sea Ice Secure is the first in a series of short films produced by Sustainable Futures North (SFN) and filmed by SFN team member Sarah Betcher. The film showcases how rapid changes in climate, weather and development are affecting the daily lives of hunters, fishers and gatherers in 10 rural Alaskan villages.

Loring, an assistant professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability, is the lead researcher for the project, which recently earned an honourable mention in the 2015 Greenpeace short film contest that featured more than 500 climate change documentaries.

"The video series features local voices and experiences and shows how residents of the North, while vulnerable in many ways to climate change, are actively pursuing innovative solutions," said Loring. "Too much of the Arctic dialogue focuses on what climate change might mean for new business opportunities such as shipping and oil development. There's a real social justice implication to climate change that these videos highlight."

The project, funded by a grant from the US National Science Foundation's Arctic Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) program, examines life in northern regions ranging from Baffin Island, Nunavut to coastal Alaska. The documentary series is primarily focused on the northwest Alaskan coastal communities of Deering, Kivalina, Kotzebue, Nome and Point Hope, which rely on sea ice for food security, transportation and maintaining a way of life threatened by rapid climate change.

"We're talking to people about the biggest challenges they face for health, food, water and energy security, and trying to figure out how new natural resource development such as oil and gas impact these," said Loring, who created the series along with team member Craig Gerlach of the University of Calgary. "The project is driven by community needs and interests, and is very interdisciplinary, with a team that includes civil engineers, anthropologists, sociologists, sea ice geophysicists, climate scientists and educators."

Sea Ice Secure is viewable online at: http://www.sustainablefuturesnorth.org/. Three more short films on such topics as food security and subsistence practices are in development.

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For more information, contact:
James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
(306) 966-1851
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