Introducing the North Water: Histories of exploration, ice dynamics, living resources, and human settlement in the Thule Region

New publication by Kirsten Hastrup, Anders Mosbech and Bjarne Grønnow

2018.03.26 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen

Photo: Mikael Kristian Sejr


The North Water is a recurrent polynya in the High Arctic situated between Northwest Greenland and Ellesmere Island of Canada. The North Water makes a dynamic space, where various processes may enhance or obstruct each other, accelerating or halting particular modes of human–animal relations in the region, where life itself depends on the North Water. This will be discussed in four steps. The first step posits the North Water as a perceived oasis for explorers and whalers hailing from Europe or America in the nineteenth century. The second step concentrates on the diverse rhythms inherent in the ice conditions, as affected by trends that are set in motion elsewhere. The third step highlights the implications of the dynamics of the ice and sea currents for animal life in the region. The fourth step gives an overview of human settlement patterns around the North Water across the ages. The article shows how natural and social features are deeply implicated in each other, even if they are not directly co-variant.

Ambio. April 2018, Volume 47, Supplement 2, pp 162–174.

Arctic Research Centre