About

The expression — “harsh Arctic or harsh Polar conditions” — did not come about by chance, as it is truly extremely cold in the Arctic. On the Taimyr Peninsula, for instance, winter lasts for almost nine months, and the air temperature can go down below -50°С. Neither the short summer is really comfortable: the medium temperature in July is +2°С, and on the southern side of the Peninsula only a little above +10°С. The coldest point of the northern hemisphere is located in the village of Oimyakon on the Indigirka River. An almost one hundred and five degree temperature difference, the biggest in Eurasia, was recorded here: from -67.7°С in winter to +37°С in summer.

North of the Arctic Circle the sun does not fall below the horizon for days, a phenomenon which has become known as the “polar day.” Depending on the latitude, the “polar day” can last from two days at the latitude of the Arctic Circle to more than half a year (from March 18 to September 26) at the North Pole. The “polar night,” when the sun does not rise above the horizon, comes during winter.

In the modern climate, warming on the global and regional scale progresses within the bounds of the latest cycle of natural climatic fluctuations tied to the changes of the sun’s activity. In the age of intensive industrial development, however, the climate is also influenced by anthropogenic factors, such as the growing concentration of gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that causes the so-called “greenhouse effect.” Climatic fluctuations are manifested very strongly in the arctic zone. On Chukotka, for instance, during the one hundred years of record-keeping, the annual average temperatures have risen 1.6°С, at the same time as the global temperature of our planet during the same period has risen only by 0.6–0.7°С.
Indigenous communities are the first to face the adverse consequences of climate change due to their close relationship with the environment. The global-warming-related changes, including the shrinking Arctic ice-sheet, have an effect on the traditional lifestyles of indigenous peoples of the circumpolar North. Traditional knowledge is an inseparable part of indigenous culture, livelihoods, beliefs, traditions and customs. It incorporates indigenous strategies of relationships to the environment and can be used for adaptation to climate changes and natural hazards.

Contemporary indigenous or aboriginal peoples are the descendants of the ancient communities of hunters, fishermen, and gatherers who considered nature not as something apart from themselves, an environment with a complex of natural resources, but as a part of their own communities. The Japanese ethnologist, H. Watanabe, calls this attitude “the system of social solidarity with nature,” which is based on understanding the connection between all living things, and the equal interactivity of all objects of nature including humans.

This website has been developed by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) within a project “A Networked System of Open Indigenous Knowledge Resources for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Polar Regions” funded by the UNESCO Intersectoral Platform “UNESCO’s contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation”. It contains multimedia modules with interdisciplinary complex of indigenous knowledge related to mitigation and adaptation to environmental changes in the regions that have similar climate and face similar environmental problems in the Far North of Russia.