The hydrology of wetland-dominated basins in the zone of discontinuous permafrost near Fort Simpson, NWT
Principal Investigator: Quinton, William L. (18)
Licence Number: 13954
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2001
Issued: Mar 30, 2006
Project Team: Dr. Masaki Hayashi (co-Investigator, University of Clagary), Ms. Nicole Wright (Ph.D. cnadidate, Simon Fraser University), Mr. Peter Kaufman (Ph.D. candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Project Description: The Fort Simpson region has a high density of open water and wetlands that occupies the zone of discontinuous permafrost. Discontinuous permafrost terrain is particularly sensitive to the effects of climatic warming because pronounced changes in water storage and runoff pathways could occur with small additional ground heating. The major peatland types of this region include channel fens, flat bogs and peat plateaus. Each performs a distinct role in the overall cycling and storage of water. Unlike the bogs and fens, peat plateaus contain permafrost. Their surfaces rise 1-2 m above the surrounding terrain, and support shrubs and trees. Recent field studies indicate the importance of peat plateaus in controlling the volume and timing of basin runoff. The long term objective of this research is to develop a computer model to estimate the volume and timing of runoff from wetland-dominated basins in this region from: 1) the properties of peat plateau soils, and 2) physical attributes of the basin peat plateau cover. This model will reduce the uncertainties regarding the influence of climate warming on the future availability of northern water resources.

2006 fieldwork will involve the ground-truthing of high-resolution satellite imagery data acquired for Scotty Creek in September, 2000. Sensing equipment (water level recorders and rain gauges) will be installed and stream flow measurements will be taken following the snowmelt period in the spring of 2006. Approximately five soil samples will be collected in cylinders (30 cm x 10 cm) for the measurement of water-transmission properties. Water samples (30 ml) will be collected from all water level monitoring sites. Once this equipment is installed and the soil samples collected, a more extensive water-sampling programme will be initiated in order to gather samples from the major runoff producing areas within the basin, including a wide variety of wetland types, lakes and upland areas. This type of sampling will make use of a helicopter. It is anticipated that this extensive sampling can be accomplished in one day. An additional day of helicopter flying will be needed to photograph and identify the ground-cover types within Scotty Creek, and to remove the water-level monitoring equipment. Fieldwork will entail ten days in April and another ten days in September.
The study will be conducted at Scotty Creek (61° 18'N 121° 18'W) within these time periods: April 1-15 and September 1-15, 2006.