Summer school 2009 – University of Copenhagen

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Waterworlds > Gallery - climate portraits > Summer school 2009

Summer school 2009

Anni Dahl 

Year of birth: 1959
Place of birth: Illulisat. She has lived in Qeqertarsuaq for 25 years.
Profession: Educated as a social worker and is working as a cleaning lady. She has 3 children
Location: Anni’s work place, Arktisk Station

Photo & text: Laura Vang Rasmussen and Sara Trærup

According to Anni, the weather is quite normal today, although it has become warmer throughout the year. The temperature has generally increased since she was a child. However, this does not imply changes in the spread of ice. Anni does not think that the increasing temperatures are caused by humans since the weather has always varied. The variability in climate only means that she dresses with more or less warm clothes, since she adjusts to temperatures. However, the increased temperatures may have an impact on fishermen going ice fishing with their dog sledges.


We asked Anni to describe her view of the relation between energy consumption and
climate change. In everyday life, Anni does not think of energy savings or climate change. But still she uses only environmentally and allergic friendly cleansing agents and other products at home, because her daughter is suffering from allergy. At work, she has no influence on the kinds of products which are being used, since they are imported from Denmark without her advices. Despite her lack of faith in human induced climate changes, she is pleased of the attention to environment and pollution, since she wouldn’t like the pollution and impacts spreading into Greenland.


Bendt Kristiansen

Year of birth: 1958
Place of birth: Kangersuatsiaq
Profession: Minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Qeqertarsuaq
Location: The ministers’ meat drying place behind his house

Photo & text: Cecilie Rubow

It is windy and a little cold and dull. There are waves, so you cannot go sailing. Three days ago we sailed in dinghies to go hunting, 400 km south. We caught 15 reindeers and five musk oxen.

I do not experience many changes in the climate, but it is a little warmer. In 1999, when I moved do this place, snow reached the windows. Since, there has not been so much snow and there is less sea ice, apart from last year.

More ships with supplies can come through, and there are more fish, especially cod. Other places in Greenland, especially in the North, experience poorer seal hunting.

Previously, Greenlanders made a link between nature and themselves. They said the Mother of the Sea might get angry with human behavior. Today, human behavior may also affect nature if we exaggerate fishing or emit too much CO2. But nature has always been changing, and I’m not so worried.

At funerals, I talk about how nature is reborn every spring. By autumn there will be many colors. Nature ripens, and then it needs to rest. We humans resemble nature, but we are slightly different. I believe we will be resurrected by God.


Name: Alibak Seeb

Age: 16
Profession: Pupil at Piareersarfik
Birth town: Godhavn
Present residence: Godhavn

Photo & text: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

It is windy, grey and rainy today. It is bad weather.

I heard about climate changes on the television. I noticed my self that it is getting warmer here. There is less ice now than there were earlier. It used to feel more freezing at this time of the year.

I don’t know whether the climate changes. Is it good or bad? It does not affect me and I don’t really care.

My tattoo is a mark that I share with some friends of mine. Some of them are my cousins. The symbol is a cross.

Next year I will be moving to Sisimiut to take an education.


A glimpse from the distance

Location: Artic Station and Qeqertarsuaq from the mountain
1924 – 2009

Text and photo: Anette Reenberg

Landscapes are silent story tellers. Even a single landscape picture, representing one specific
moment in history, documents how the continuous interaction of man and the environment
creates landscapes.

The view over Arctic Station from the mountain fascinated the photographer in 1924, when he
captured the lake, the icebergs, the station and the distant horizon of the town. 85 years later the view is still fascinating – and yet very different. The historical footprints of man are abundant. At a first glance, the landscape has not changed much. The lake and the coastline remain almost the same; even the icebergs are almost similar. Hence, the natural landscape features have not changed at this scale of observation. Changes in the society’s technological capacity and in the global economy have, however, altered the cultural features of the landscape.

New ways of connecting people in distant places to the wider global community demand space in the landscape – as for example the heliport in front of the lake and the road leading hereto from the town. And cultural connections inspire new ways of living: the contemporary landscape must provide space for a football field, and urban sprawl fills up the landscape between the station and the harbour.


Name: Adam Møller

Age: 80
Profession: Retired
Birth town: Godhavn
Present residence: Godhavn nursing home

Photo & text: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

There used to be snow on the mountains in Qeqertarsuaq at this time of year. The snow comes later. It does not come until it gets cold at the top of the hill and it will not be until it gets colder in the air. There is not much ice in the fjord because there has been a storm recently.

There have been no snow in August, but there tends not to be anyway. The snow usually comes in September, but it will not come in September this year. You can feel that the wind is too hot.

I do not really think about the weather being different. That is just the way it is.

Previously I worked for a local contractor. I also worked with radio mechanics. I have only gone to school in Qeqertarsuaq, but I was also trained in Denmark near Rebild. It was in 1966. My sister has a Danish husband and lives in Denmark. My two children also moved to
Denmark. I visited them a few years ago. I don’t speak Danish. But I did once. I like action movies; Jean Claude Van Damme is one of my favourite actors.

A lot of people are moving away now. They are gathering in the bigger towns.


Jakob Jerimiassen

Year of birth: 1936
Place of birth: Kangaatsiaq
Profession: Retired
Location: Outside their house in in Kangerluk with his wife Ida

Photo and text: Frank Sejersen.

Jakob had just returned to the small village of Kangerluk. As we passed each other on the little path in the grass he started a conversation. He was pleased to be back, the weather was sunny and he had seen four seals on his way here. He invited me indoors where his wife Ida was unpacking.

We looked out the window framing the landscape as he explained the social and
environmental movements of the place. During his life he has been moving to many different
places in Greenland for better hunting, fishing and job opportunities, but he always returns to
Kangerluk where his wife was born. Having spent a lifetime here I wondered if he had noticed any environmental changes. “We used to catch a lot of halibut and there were plenty of porpoises. However, they were overfished by the European fishermen. We still have wolf fish and seal hunting is good”.

He pointed to the dusty and brownish mountains and assured me that they used to be
covered with snow and ice even in the summer, “it is really getting warmer!”. “Does that worry you?” I asked. “It worries me that the river where we fish is getting dryer”.


Karl Thue Nathaliensen

Year of birth: 1960
Place of birth: Qullissat
Profession: School teacher
Location: Living room in front of photos of his children

Photo: Anna Kaijser. Text: Anna Kaijser and Frank Sejersen.

It is autumn, but it is not so cold. I can wear this sleeveless t-shirt. The wind is stronger than in months.

It is warmer now. The northern wind and the icebergs usually make it cool, but the icebergs have become smaller. The rivers are drying out, it may affect the fish.

The air is more humid. It feels colder and the laundry freezes on the line. But the higher
temperature makes it cheaper to heat the house. And it has become easier to hunt small whales.

I grew up in Qullissat. Since the town was closed down in 1972 I have moved around, as a baker and as a teacher. I have a strong desire for new challenges. Every year I return to Qullissat to spend my summer with old friends.

I encourage my students to leave Qeqertarsuaq, but they end up staying because they feel
responsible for their parents. It is a pity, because the students do not get the chance to fulfil their dreams and develop their capacities.


Name: Elisabeth Broberg, called Elizabennguaq (sweet little Elisabeth)

Age: 82
Profession: Retired
Birth town: Godhavn 1927
Present residence: Godhavn nursing home

Text and Photo: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

The weather has become drier in recent years. The development impacts on the berry season. The berries are smaller and disappear quicker than before in this area.

The temperatures are increasing. I do not think much about it.

A lot of things have been changing since I was a child. It is sad that it is getting warmer, but I like sitting out in the sun.

I worked as a maiden for a Danish family in my hometown, Godhavn until I got married. It was as a maiden I learned a little Danish. My husband was responsible for the village supply for many years. Together we have 6 children, three daughters and three sons. One of my daughters is dead. My husband is also dead. It was just a few years ago.

When I was a child living in Godhavn, there were not many inhabitants. Now the number has
increased significant. But the young people tend to move away from the city now. Many move to Ilulissat, Nuuk or Denmark. One of my sons, Thomas has moved to Odense.


Knud Danielsen

Year of birth: 1961.
Place of birth: Kangerluk
Profession: Taking care of the school club in Kangerluk

Text and photo: Kåre Hendriksen

It is a lovely weather today - it has not been such a hot and dry summer in my life.

There is much less ice in the winter and it is thinner and more dangerous and there are new
places with current, so it's hard to catch in the winter or drive dog sledge to Qeqertarsuaq.

Now we are only 36 people living in Kangerluk, when the factory was open we were more. The factory was closed in 2004. I do not know why, the year before we had purchased 100 tons of cod - this was a real livelihood. I was manager of the factory, but Nuka A/S decided to close the factories in the settlements.

They are just trying to close the settlements – they have also stopped the uniform price system. Yes, it's Home Rule, they will have us to the cities where there are labour shortages in the summer, but we feel so much better here.

The block grants from Denmark is intended for each person, but it has always worked in the way that money goes to cities. They forget the smaller places.

I've been out in the world working, including in Denmark, but I have always longed for Kangerluk - I have my Greenlandic soul.


Frederik Grønvold (called Fari)

Year of birth: 1944
Profession: Skipper on Porsild, the research and touring vessel of the Arctic Station
Location: On board Porsild, Disko Fjord

Photo & text: Kirsten Hastrup

The weather is fine today; better than expected. The wind turned out much less violent. That’s why we may sail, although it didn’t look like that yesterday.

The weather has changed. They talk about warming. The sea currents have certainly become
warmer. That is why we get more storms and more bad weather. And the ice has become
thinner, especially up at Qaanaaq, but also here.

There are more icebergs, but they have become smaller. There are many more whales, narwhals, beluga whales and bowhead whales. There are far too many bowhead whales. They took two here in Qeqertarsuaq in the spring, and we tasted it. We don’t like it, because we don’t know it any more.

The summer has been busy. Many researchers have come here. And students. We took some to Nûgssuaq where they camped for a week. But there have been many, and we take them where they want to go, botanists or geologists. Or whale researchers. ‘All those researchers’ [smiling].

I used to be a fisherman. In the winter I still go fishing and I hunt narwhals from my dinghy. But the winter storms have become more violent, and it has become more difficult to sail.


Michael Haferkamp

Year of birth: 1959
Place of birth: Bremen, Germany

Martina Haferkamp

Year of birth: 1962
Place of birth: Bremen, Germany

Profession: Past: Owners of a furniture retail company. Present: Professional leisure sailors
Location: Onboard of Polaris, Port of Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

Text & photo : Frida Hastrup & Torsten Krause

As sailors we are very dependent on the weather. Today is beautiful and sunny, like the most
days, since we arrived in Greenland 6 weeks ago. We have only had one day of rain, which
surprised us. This is our first time in Greenland and we don’t know what the weather is usually like here, but during our prior travels around Svalbard, where we have been sailing since 1987, we have noticed that the glaciers there have retreated and that there is less pack ice. For us it meant that we were able to sail around Svalbard in July 2006, which was not possible before. When it comes to our travel plans, we have stocked food for ten months on the boat, so we can be very spontaneous and make our plans as we go. Also, we try not to have too specific expectations of a place before we get there. However, we are positively surprised about the infrastructure here and that you can easily get anything you need. On the other hand, we think that the environmental thinking of the local people could be improved, as the town seems to be messier than other arctic towns we have seen.


Gerda Broberg Heilmann

Year of birth: 1962
Place of birth: Qeqertarsuaq
Profession: Assistant Administrative Director in the municipality and a
hunter’s wife
Location: Her living room

Photo & text: Frank Sejersen September 2009

While drinking coffee, Gerda and I of cause also talked about the weather. But I was taken by
surprise when she asked me to describe the weather. She hadn’t been out due to a bad foot and felt immobilised. I wanted to talk to Lars, her husband, too. “He is always out hunting”. The wall at the TV was decorated with photos of Lars posing with polar bears. In one, his son was next to him. Smiling. “He has also been whale hunting in northern Upernavik”. They moved here 12 years ago because she wanted to be closer to her family. “I want to talk a little more about the weather…have you experienced any changes”? “Last year it did not rain much…and we had sea ice for the first time in many years, but we were uncertain if it was safe to travel on. A few years ago we stopped having dogs but we kept one. 19 dogs were too many for me to take care of”. I curiously asked if the disappearing sea ice made it more difficult to hunt. “I think not, because you can hunt between the ice flows from boat. Sometimes he is lucky, sometimes not”.


Frantz Nielsen

Year of birth: 1951
Place of birth: Qullissat
Profession: Arctic Station manager
Location: Hallen (Qeqertarsuaq gym)

Text & photo: Lill Rastad Bjørst and Mette Fog Olwig

We met Frantz with his daughter Arnannguaq at the gym where they work out twice a week. It is a nice day, partially cloud free, partially sunny. Frantz works and lives in Arctic Station.
Researchers visiting the Station often ask him about climate change and its effects on nature and local society. These, he feels, are complicated questions to answer, since it depends on your daily life. The decreasing ice is an advantage for the fishermen, for example, but a disadvantage for the hunters. He follows the international climate debate online and is concerned that there is little understanding that limited resources and funds make it difficult for Greenland to adhere to the Kyoto protocol. He is also unsure of which parts of the researchers’ results to believe “I think about the sun and the rotation of the earth, the moon. They’re the reason we can be here, it means a lot – what’s in the universe. I am not much of a believer either and I don’t think God is behind this. There are things over which we don’t have any power at all. The problem with too much CO2 – it’s probably true, but there must be more to it.”


Outi Tervo

Place of birth: Suonenjoki (Finland)
29 years old
Profession: Biologist

Mads Christoffersen

Place of birth: Hjørring (Denmark),
47 years old
Profession: Professional Diver

Location: Arctic Station Library, Qeqertarsuaq

Photo & text: Anders Blok, Ásdis Jónsdóttir, Martin Skrydstrup,

Outi: Today the weather is bad, because you can’t see the blow of the whales. The light is not
good; it’s grey and there are no contrasts.

Outi: I’ve been here for five years. The last two years have been very cold, a lot of sea ice. From 2005 to 2007 there was no sea ice. But generally I think it is getting warmer; the last two years are only fluctuations. I do believe in global warming.

Outi: There are a lot of interesting researchers who come here to the Arctic Station. Many of them work on climatic changes. Mads: I was skeptical when the royalties came here recently, but then a lot of good scientists also came along.

Outi: Actually, my research on whales has nothing to do with climate change. I’m not a climate scientist.

Mads: Recently, we listened to some Swedish scientists here at the Arctic Station, they really
knew how to get good data. It was about changes in the heartbeat of fish. Outi: We have a lot of possibilities for interesting chats about climate change.


Name: Margrethe Broberg, called Makka 

Age: 86
Profession: Retired
Birth town: Skansen
Present residence: Godhavn nursing home

Photo & text: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

The land does not make a sound when you walk on it. It did when I was younger. The reason why it does not squeak any longer is because the weather is not so cold anymore.

The climate is changed. The temperatures are rising.

I think it is sad that the land no longer squeaks when you walk on it.

I am the oldest woman in town. I was born in Skansen but moved to Godhavn when I was a child. My sister died before we moved.

I do not really like changes. When things change you don’t know what to expect.

 


Name: Lone Kristiansen, called Luuna

Age: 75
Profession: Retired
Birth town: Qaarsut
Present residence: Godhavn nursing home

Photo & text: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

I like it when it is sunny weather. The weather has changed since I was a child. It is warmer now compared to then.

The temperature is rising. I like to look at the sea from the window in my room. It is very pretty. From the window I can see the variations in the weather. When I was a child is was colder and there were more fish in the sea.

I think it was nicer when the weather was colder. Because that is the way it was back when I was a child. The climatic changes do not bother me much, but it is not good for fishermen and hunters, as the fish are disappearing.

I do a lot of needlework, and I have made numerous national costumes. Once I made a dress just in beads. I did it because I would like to see if it was possible to do it. It became very beautiful. I have made national costumes for my daughters and grandchildren. I have
also made an income from selling my creations. I can show you some embroidery and knitted wrist warmers I have done.

 


Name: Nuka Pavia Wille 

Age: 50
Profession: Handicraft maker
Birth town: Kangerluk (Settlement at Disko Island)
Present residence: Kangerluk

Photo & text: Christian Vium, Lars Rosendahl Appelquist and Anne Merrild Hansen

The weather is something they talk a lot about in the settlement. It is very important in every day life; among others it affects transportation between Qeqertarsuaq, the nearest town and Kangerluk. If the weather is bad, it is not possible to sail, and if it is hot the ice will not
be good to dogsledge on.

The ice cap is retreating dramatically in this area. The glaciers are redrawing as well. Five years ago the glaciers would go all the way down and into the fjord, but now they are very small. It is because of the changes of the icecap, that the weather becomes warmer.

You never know when it changes again. You can’t say why the weather is changing. The nature is very complex.

I was born here. My parents and grand parents were also born here. I have four children. My youngest is 15 years old, it is a son. He is studying in Norway. No doubt that I miss him, but it is good for him to be in Norway, and I do not have the money to visit him or buy him a
ticket here.

Back in the fifties there were 100 inhabitants in Kangerluk. Now there are only 34. They live in 14 houses. The rest of the houses are empty.

 


Karl Tobiassen

Age: 77
Place of birth: Qeqertarsuaq
Occupation: Retired telegraph operator and fire inspector; footballer and founder of Qeqertarsuaq’s old-boys team. Currently
volunteering at the museum

Text & photo: Mikkel Sørensen, Ann Lennart & Kristoffer Damgaard

As we stroll through the museum, Karl enthusiastically tells us about Phillip Rosenthal, the former resident and governor of North Greenland. Settling down in Rosenthal’s old office, the stories of his own life and Qeqertarsuaq’s history flow effortlessly. We present him with a photo from 1913 of a newly wed couple standing in front of a house. He recognizes the man, recalling that he used to play football with his son, and continues: “It was the telegraph operator in Qeqertarsuaq who introduced football to Greenland. He ordered materials for a bridge across Kûgssuaq so that the red river sediments on the other side could be used as a pitch. Today the sediments have been used for a heliport and a new pitch in front of Arctic Station”. Addressing the weather, Karl rolls up his sleeve, points to his arm and says: “The sun has become a lot stronger. I got prickly heat for the first time in Denmark. That was 1976 – a very warm summer. This year I got it again here in Qeqertarsuaq”. Later, sitting on Rosenthal´s sledge in the museum annex, Karl concludes ”we won the Greenland Championship in 1956. Scoring 22 goals that season, I made 8.”