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Thinning ice has big impact on life in Greenland

Brennan Linsley / AP

Inuit hunter Nukappi Brandt steers his small boat as he and his daughter Aaneeraq, 9, scan the water for seals, accompanied by his other daughter Luusi, 8, outside Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland, July 21. Brandt, 49, has been a hunter since age 14, and said roughly 20 years ago, when winter sea ice became too thin to support dogsleds, seal hunting ceased to be a sustainable way of life here.

Brennan Linsley / AP

Inuit hunter Nukappi Brandt aims his rifle to shoot a seal, which dived underwater before he could get off a shot, as his daughter Luusi, 8, keeps low inside their small boat outside Qeqertarsuaq, July 21.

AP reports:

The old hunter was troubled by the foreigners encroaching on his Inuit people's frozen lands.

"The Inuit say that they are going to heat the 'siku' (the sea ice) to make it melt. There will be almost no more winter," the elder says of the southerners in Jean Malaurie's "Last Kings of Thule," the French explorer's classic account of a year in the Arctic.

The year was 1951. A lifetime later, another Inuit hunter looks out at Disko Bay from this island's rocky fringe and remembers driving his dogsled team over the solid glitter of the siku all the way to Ilulissat, a town 90 kilometers (50 miles) across the water.

"The ice then was 1 to 2 meters thick," Jakob Jensen, 65, recalled of those winters past.

"Now, it's a few centimeters. It's very thin and you can't go on dogsled."

The winter sea ice that defined Greenlander life for millennia is melting, and it's the southerners who did it, as Malaurie's Inuit foretold long before science showed industrial emissions were warming the planet.

Read more here and check out more images below.

Brennan Linsley / AP

Greenland sled dogs are shown in Qeqertarsuaq, July 21. Some hunters, who relied on winter game to feed their sled dogs, have been unable to continue to support large numbers of dogs, and have been shooting them.

Brennan Linsley / AP

An Inuit fisherman pulls in a fish on a sea filled with floating ice left over from broken-up icebergs shed from the Greenland ice sheet in Ilulissat, Greenland, July 18.

Brennan Linsley / AP

Inuit family members from left, Estrella Brandt, holding her daughter Noelle, Louise Brand and their mother, Rosa Marie Brandt laugh during Rosa Marie's husband's 50th birthday party at their home in Qeqertarsuaq, July 20.

Brennan Linsley / AP

A narwhal whale tusk from a hunt along with miniature replicas of traditional kayaking and hunting tools adorn a wall above a television set inside the home of an Inuit family in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland. Whales have long been a central part of Inuit life in Greenland, where a regulated subsistence hunt continues to this day.

Brennan Linsley / AP

An Inuit woman sweeps the steps of the church in Qeqertarsuaq, July 20.