Significant and rapid climate change is predicted for Arctic regions. These changes are expected to have implications for indigenous communities. This paper argues that the starting point to understand how future climate change may affect communities is analysis of past and present experience of, and response to, climate variability and change. Using a vulnerability approach, the paper provides an historical account of changing vulnerability to climate-related risks among Inuit in Igloolik, Nunavut. The research demonstrates that Inuit in Igloolik have been highly adaptable in the face of climatic stresses. This adaptability has historically been facilitated by traditional Inuit knowledge, resource use flexibility and diversity, group mobility, and strong social networks. However, societal changes, and more recently biophysical changes, have increased the susceptibility of people to climatic risks and have undermined certain aspects of adaptive capacity. The research indicates that the implications of future climate change will be influenced by the interaction between biophysical and societal changes, will vary over time in response to forces internal and external to the community, and will be differentiated among social groups.
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