Polar regions discussed at Mt. A

‘Antarctic2Arctic: Research at the Poles’ talk given by professors.

The Polar Regions are changing, and when climate change is brought up, they are always used as an example. This past Monday, the Geography and Environment Society hosted a talk at the Wu centre about the two most changing areas of Earth. Geography and environment professor Ian Mauro and math and computer science professor Andrew Irwin had an interactive discussion about their ongoing research at the planet’s poles, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. President of the Geography and Environment Society Johnathan Carter thought, “It was a good way to teach the students and the community about Dr. Mauro’s Inuit knowledge regarding the impacts of the mining in the Arctic and Dr. Irwin’s expedition to study oceanography and modeling in Antarctica.”

Mauro won the coin flip which led to the discussion beginning in the Arctic regions. He is a renowned filmmaker, as well as a researcher and professor at Mount Allison University, where he has developed films about the Inuit climate change. This film was the world’s first Inuktitut language film on that topic. He began his discussion showcasing the beauty of the Arctic regions with a video cartography project that included maps of locations such as Baffin Island that would show videos taken from different regions at that location. The main issue in the Inuit community is that the minister of foreign affairs in Canada is bringing up an idea of a mine at Baffin Island that would bring a lot of iron ore to the region. This would affect the region drastically as it would create more pollution as well as change the landscape due to the lack of transportation available to deliver the iron ore to different locations in the world.

An issue mostly brought up by people that do not live in the Arctic is that the Inuit still hunt animals for food. However, Inuit people take hunting seriously, as they have lots of respect for the nature and the world around them. It is their main access to food, as food is extremely expensive in the Arctic due to the costs of transporting food and drink to those regions. Mauro finished up his discussion by claiming that once climate change occurs, he would rather live up in the North because the Inuit have a knowledge and understanding of how to live off of the land where people in the urban regions would struggle.

Irwin also began his discussion with scenery pictures, this time showcasing Antarctica and his experiences on the Peninsula. He currently oversees the Mount Allison Marine Macroecology and Biochemistry lab, where they are exploring applications that will improve our understanding of the consequences of climate change. His research consisted of putting cages overboard with cylinders, where it would take water samples at different depths to discover the distribution of microorganisms at different areas. Microorganisms affect the food cycle, as it is at the bottom of the food chain. If there are fewer microorganisms in the region, it would be challenging for animals going up the cycle as they would now have less food in the area to eat. Irwin was faced with many challenges, not only in his research but from Mother Nature as well, as he was met with very tough conditions between South America and Antarctica, but managed to prevail in the face of danger. 

The discussion was met with a lot of praise from the community attending the event, with Carter summing it all up by saying, “That after hearing the talk, that the Polar Regions have not moved up on my list of the places I would want to visit most.”

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