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New Digital Stories from the Arctic

funded by NSF:

Inupiaq Eskimos, Scientists, etc.

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junior library guild selection

Available at Recorded Books



A great website for taking action


     For thousands of years, Iñupiaq Eskimos have hunted bowhead whales from the sea ice. Now this hunting platform is becoming thinner and more dangerous.

     The Iñupiaq Eskimos live in a warming land - the North Slope of

Alaska. As global climate change continues to heat up the Arctic, the Iñupiaq culture faces an uncertain future.

     In Arctic Thaw, you will meet some of the scientists who study climate change, see Iñupiaq villagers come together to harvest a bowhead after a successful hunt, and enjoy Kivgiq, a festival that brings villages together to celebrate the Iñupiaq whaling tradition.

     Peter presents the essential science of one of humanity's most exciting challenges - global climate change - and an intimate view of a culture that's facing it head-on.



Featured in MOSAIC 2007, an annual multicultural literature exhibit hosted by Lincoln (NE) Public Schools Library Media Services. The exhibit featured the best and most current multicultural titles from 2006-2007.

Adopted for the latest edition of the Kansas Reading Circle catalog, intermediate level

2007 Society of School Librarians International Honor Book


"[A] timely photo-essay. ..."
—Kirkus Reviews

"A perfect book to help young people understand how the world is changing and why that matters, but in a way that won't overwhelm them."
—Bill McKibben

"A somewhat sobering, yet upbeat examination of the probable effects of global warming on the culture of the Iñupiaq whale hunters of Alaska’s North Slope. ...Lively, straightforward text. ...Numerous full-color photos and helpful maps and diagrams enrich the package. ...This book should find space on library shelves along with [Lourie's} other titles. ...An up-to-the-minute window into a fast-changing world — with hopeful overtones."
—School Library Journal

—Aiken Standard, SC

"Experienced ecological writer Peter Lourie places the issue of global warming firmly on the ground (or permafrost, or ice) of Alaska's North Slope, with three visits to Barrow in September, February and April. He accompanies climate-change scientist Paul Shepson, who does not quarrel with the idea of global warming but is more interested in discussing how we confront the challenge. We watch scientists and the native Inupiat exchange information, share seasonal rituals and consider the future. The explanation of whaling makes clear that the native practices do not stress the bowhead whale population. Lourie's photographs are complemented by highly specific explanations of scientific and indigenous realities."
—Chicago Tribune

Journey to Barrow, Alaska

April, 2005


april 2005

out on the ice

the Inupiat are cutting through a particularly jumbled pressure ridge to get out farfar enough to set up camps and wait for the spring migration of the bowheads


jumping the road photos


September 2004

More photos from the arctic

February 2005

In September, February, and now April, I made three trips to Barrow to research for a book on climate change.  Here's a great site to learn more about Inupiaq whale subsistence:  

The following discussion and associated images of the scientific study of bowhead whales are derived from presentations given by J. Craig George of the North Slope Borough, Department of Wildlife Management.



Barrow project updates

weather in Barrow right now

     with Dr. Shepson, February 2005

Visiting with Jean Craighead George and her son Craig in Barrow

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA)


    This year I'll be making three trips to Alaska to write about global warming.  I hope to record the work of atmospheric scientist Dr. Paul "Shep" Shepson of Purdue University and his graduate students who are conducting experiments through the winter in Barrow.   I also intend to document the native views on global change, and collect information in words and on video tape that can be used for educating children around the world about this important issue. 


    Check out this Oct. 7, 2003 article in The Christian Science Monitor (Alaska's not-so-permanent frost by Yereth Rosen).  You'll notice some comments here by the son of the children's book writer Jean Craighead George.  Craig George lives in Barrow and has been studying whales there for nearly a decade.  I'll be visiting him next fall when I accompany Professor Shepson to Barrow.



Why the Hole is Over Antarctica


      Why is the ozone hole over Antarctica? That is one of the first questions that comes to mind when people think about the ozone hole/

    During the Antarctic winter, an oval-shaped polar vortex is formed over the south pole area. The vortex brings ozone-rich air from above, and ozone-poor air is pushed out. The vortex is extremely cold, reaching temperatures of -80 degrees Celsius (-86 degrees Fahrenheit), and these cold conditions help cause large clouds to form in the atmosphere. The clouds in the extreme cold gradually absorb nitrogen oxide, which is stored in crystals of nitric acid inside of the clouds.  As the cloud of water and nitric acid starts to grow, it can grow to the point where it covers the entire Antarctic region.  When sunlight passes through the cloud, ozone-destroying chlorine and chlorine oxide are formed from the inactive chlorine and nitric acid in the cloud. 

    Is this clear?  Actually, I'm still lingering back there on the question itself....

   The chlorine and chlorine oxide can count for up to 70% of the ozone depletion over Antarctica each year.




New Digital Stories from the Arctic

funded by NSF:

Inupiaq Eskimos, Scientists, etc.

click here