Global warming is increasingly rendering Inuit and other Arctic peoples at a loss for words. They simply do not have names in their languages for the temperate species flocking up from the south.
They have plenty of ways of describing their own wildlife - some have more than 1,000 words for reindeer - but none for, say, the robin, which is only now venturing north of the treeline.
The Inuit are reduced to describing it as "the bird with the red breast" in their language, Inuktiut, said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the top elected representative of the people worldwide.
Nor, she said, are there words for salmon, hornets and barn owls, all of which are appearing in the Arctic for the first time. "We can't even describe what we are seeing," she added.
Last month, the Arctic Council presented the most comprehensive report ever carried out on the climate of the region, which is made up of parts of the United States, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It concluded that the far north is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the result of years of study by more than 250 scientists and published by Cambridge University Press, said that summer sea ice has declined dramatically; Arctic glaciers are shrinking rapidly; permafrost is thawing and warm waters are thrusting ever further into northern seas, threatening serious changes to the world's climate.
It added that polar bears "are unlikely to survive as a species" if the sea ice melts, because they would be crowded out by brown bears and grizzlies, which would be much better suited to the new environment.
Another report, on changes in North American wildlife because of climate change, concluded that the Arctic fox is already retreating in the face of a steady northwards expansion of the red fox.
Much larger and more aggressive, the red fox easily beats its Arctic cousin in fights, but cannot cope with extreme cold. But as global warming has taken hold it has already advanced 600 miles north in parts of Canada, said the report, which was written by professors from the universities of Texas and Colorado.
Ms Watt-Cloutier said: "Climate change is happening first and fastest in the Arctic. Our elders have intimate knowledge of the land, sea and ice and have observed disturbing changes to the climate and wildlife. If we can reverse the emission of the pollution that causes climate change in time to save the Arctic from the devastating impact of global warming, then we can spare suffering for millions of people around the globe."