The Great Whale River region on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay, Canada, encompasses the villages of Whapmagoostui (Cree First Nation) and Kuujjuarapik (Inuit) and surrounding areas. The principal field station of Centre d'études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies) has operated at Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik (W-K; 55° 15′ N, 77° 45′ w) since the 1970s, with diverse research projects on past and present environments. The climate at W-K is strongly influenced by the proximity of Hudson Bay, and the recent pronounced loss of sea ice in this sector of northern Canada has been accompanied by large increases in air temperature. Discontinuous or scattered permafrost occurs throughout the region and is degrading rapidly. The W-K region continues to experience particularly rapid isostatic uplift in response to the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Parabolic dunes occur along the coast and are strongly influenced by the plant cover. Paleoecological studies have documented the Holocene evolution of landscapes, including lakes, wetlands, and forests. The vegetation type is coastal forest tundra, with some 400 recorded species. Studies on certain insect groups provide a baseline for assessing future ecological change. The first signs of human occupation in the W-K region have been dated at 3800 BP. The arrival of the Hudson's Bay Company in the 18th century marked the onset of continuous occupation. Rapid social, economic, and environmental change initiated in the mid-20th century continues to this day.
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