Welcome to the Nunamiutuqaq terminology guide. ​

This section is dedicated to helping non-experts understand the meaning and language surrounding green energy work, and profiles climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy terminology. As this project progresses we will continue adding new terms and working with Inuinnait Elders and language experts to translate each term into both spoken and written Inuinnaqtun.  

Our lexicon is built upon the work conducted by the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Government of Nunavut, who co-hosted several climate change terminology workshops in Iqaluit and Kugluktuk in 2005. Terms and definitions that relates to our project were chosen from their document Terminology of Climate Change. We organized three workshops with Cambridge Bay's Elders and Inuinnaqtun language experts in October 2021. During these workshops, we discussed each term and how it relates to the community and this project; we then adapted and refined the terms and definitions when needed and recorded them in Inuinnaqtun.

From there, we added and translated new terms, specific to green building design and building environment in general. We adapted our definitions from the following sources: Indigenous Clean Energy, Arctic Energy Alliance, David Suzuki Foundation, World Green Building Council, and United Nations Environment Program.

Local contributors to this language program include: Mabel Etegik, Susie Maniyogina, Ann Wingnek, Mary Kaotalok, Annie Atighioyak, Eva Kakolak, Jimmy Oghina, Margaret Oghina, David Amagainek, Noah Kuptana, Bessie Omikgoitok, Emily Angulalik, Eileen Okhina, Helen Blewett, and Eva Ayalik.



Click on each theme's icon to see its vocabulary

Climate Change Terminology

In this section we explore general climate change terms, such as greenhouse gas, global warming and the carbon cycle. We reflect on the responsibilities we hold in creating and changing these impacts through our energy and consumption patterns.

Climate Change Impacts


In this section we capture the climate risks that will impact our buildings and the safety of its occupants. We reference impacts are already felt and known by Inuit communities.

Building Terminology


In this section we translate terms involved in energy efficient building and its goals to decrease heating and power consumption.




Weather / Hila

Weather refers to short term (hours/days) conditions of the air and sky over an area (temperature, clouds, winds, snowfalls, etc.)

Climate / Hilaup Ilitquhia


Climate is the weather of a specific region averaged over a long number of seasons.

Climate Change / Hilaup Aalannguqtirninga

Climate change is a long-term change in the usual average and extreme weather patterns, such as temperature, snowfall and rainfall. Although the earth’s climate is always changing over long periods of time and has been hotter and cooler than it is now, the pace of change has sped up significantly in recent decades.

Global Warming / Hilaup Uunnakpallianinga

Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere over the last few generations attributed to increase levels of GHGs in the atmosphere as a result of human activity (primarily the use of fossil fuels). Although there are still cold seasons, the usual temperature continues to get warmer

Anthropogenic / Taimailiulaqiniq Inungnit

Produced by people or happening because of human activities

Greenhouse gases / Puyum Anialaiqutaa

Much like the glass of a greenhouse, gases in Earth’s atmosphere sustain life by trapping the sun’s heat. These heat-trapping gases are known as “greenhouse gases” (GHG’s); GHGs allow the sun’s rays to pass through and warm the planet but prevent this warmth from escaping the atmosphere into space. Without them, Earth would be too cold to sustain life. For thousands of years, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was essentially stable. Natural processes removed as much carbon from the atmosphere as they released. But in the past century, the GHGs concentration has dramatically increase, driven up by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. The more GHG’s present, the more heat is trapped, and global temperature rises. This increased warming has led to climate change. When we talk about greenhouse gases, we’re referring to carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

Fossil fuels / Uqhurjuakhat

Fossil fuels include coal, oil and natural gas that produce energy when burned. They were formed from fossilized, buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Because of their origins, they are rich in carbon.

Climate change adaptation / Hilauppitquhia Malikpallianiq

Climate change adaptation and mitigation actions go hand in hand. Even after introducing significant measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, some additional degree of climate change is unavoidable and will have significant economic, social and environmental impacts on communities. This is especially significant in Cambridge Bay as the Arctic is experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change globally, warming at least twice the global average. Climate change adaptation refers to actions taken to deal with conditions that are chaning, actions that reduce damages, deal with consequences, while taking advantage of potential new opportunities. For example, finding new ways to install building foundations on the permafrost.

Methane / Puplak Uunautivalliayuq Ikiarmi

A gas that plays a large role in incresaing the temperature of the Earth’s surface (even though there is not a lot of it in the air). It is produced when coal, oil and gas are extracted and burned, when things decompose in nature or in landfills, and when frozen bogs melt. It is made up of only carbon and hydrogen.

GHG Emissions scenarios / Puyut Anianiit Qanurinniarnahugiyauniit

An estimate of the quantity of greenhouse gases that will be released into the air over a period of time based on a set of future human activities.

Climate change mitigation / Ingattaqtaililugu hilamut

Climate Change Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing people's consuming behavior.

Carbon / Algunngup Puyua

A building block that is present everwhere, in all living things, in the ocean, in the ground and in the atmosphere. Without carbon, life would not exist. It is so small that it is impossible to see without special microscopes.

Carbon dioxide / Puyurluk Nakuungittuq Anirnirlirnaqtuq


The gas that is released when people and animals breathe, when plants and food decompose, and when energy sources like diesel, charcoal, oil and gas burn. It contains carbon and it is is an important greenhouse gas, because it helps Earth’s atmosphere to retain heat generated from the Sun. However, too much carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere lead to climate change.

Carbon cycle / Algunngup Puyaata Aulaninga

The way carbon continually travel back and forth between the air, ocean and the ground in living and non-living things

Carbon sequestration / Algunngup Puyuanik Tutquqtirvik

The capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the air, into oceans, soils, plants and soils.

Carbon sink / Alguungup Puyuanik Katiqhurvik

A place, like oceans and forests, able to take some of the carbon in the air and store it.

Carbon source / Alguungup Puyuani Aniavik

Any natural process or human activity that causes carbon to be released into the air.


Ozone / Igalauyaup Iluani Anirniqarnaittuq

A form of oxygen that is found in the upper and lower layers of the envelope of air and gases that surrounds the Earth. It occurs naturally in the upper layer where it shields the planet from the harmful rays and energy in sunlight. In the lower layer it is one of the gases that contributes to the warming of the planet

Ozone layer / Igalauyaq

A band of ozone located about 30 kilometres in the sky that protects the Earth by soaking up the harmful energy in sunlight. Some human-made chemicals can cause damage or thinning of this layer. Seasonal holes sometimes even appear in this layer above the northern and southern tips of the planet

Solar radiation / Hiqinirmin Uutirnarninga

All the energy given off by the sun, including the kind that we can see as light and feel as heat, and the invisible kind that causes sunburns (UV).

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation / Hiqiniup Uutirnarninga

A portion of the energy given off by the sun that is invisible to humans. It is almost like the X-rays used in hospitals. It can damage unprotected living things that are exposed to a lot of it, like causing sunburns or skin cancer through too much sunlight.


Albedo / Tarraliyaaq

The Arctic region has warmed significantly, up to three times as much as the average seen elsewhere across the globe. Much of this warming has been attributed to the reduction of the surface albedo effect. The albedo effect describe the ability of an object or surface to bounce back the light or heat that is directed at it. For example, pale things like snow reflect more light and heat than darker things like the ocean. Ice- and snow-covered areas in the Arctic have high albedo, and reflect solar radiation which otherwise would be absorbed by the oceans and cause the Earth’s surface to heat up. When more ice and snow melt, there will be more dark surfaces, accelerating warming of the Earth.