The Inuit peoples of the Arctic have been passing down climate observations from generation to generation. Their daily lives depend heavily on their natural environment, whose material resources provide them with food, clothing, and shelter. Sharing these observations is essential to the success and survival of their culture. Recently, however, their understanding of their surroundings has been challenged by observations that have no precedent in their thousand-year history.
Observed data of this type, which are not collected by instruments, are called qualitative data. Although qualitative data cannot be compared mathematically, they can be highly informative for anyone studying climate change.