Permafrost and climate change, western Arctic Canada

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, ground temperature, permafrost, climate change, glaciology, snow depth

Principal Investigator: Burn, Chris R (31)
Licence Number: 14000
Organization: Carleton University
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Issued: Jun 08, 2006
Project Team: Dr. J. Ross Mackay (Researcher, UBC), Douglas Esagok (Field assistant, Inuvik HTC), Les Kutny (Field assistant, Inuvik), Alan Harrison (Assistant, Carleton University), Wayne Savigny (Assistant, UBC)

Project Description: The principal objective of this research is to determine how permafrost conditions in the western Arctic will respond to climate change. Additional objectives are to determine how lake temperatures respond to climate change, and how snow depths affect ground temperatures.

How permafrost responds to climate change will affect how the ground supports development projects in the future. Data is being collected on ground temperatures in the region and how it has changed over the last thirty-five years. Data is also being collected at sites to determine the influence of snow depth on ground temperature. Because it is expected that climate change will include snowier winters, deeper snow may lead to ground warming as great as the effects of warmer air temperatures.

A long-term field experiment on the abrasion of rocks will be started at Paulatuk with the installation of several small rock pillars in the hills south of the community. These will be exposed to sand and snow blasting during high winds. The possibility of installing a deep ground temperature cable near Paulatuk will be discussed with the community. Data on ground temperatures will continue to be collected at a site along the Dempster Highway near the Inuvik Airport, and deformation of the ground at the site measured. At each site, surveys with leveling equipment will be conducted, and ground temperatures measured with data loggers and thermistor cables. Of particular interest is how snow depths change ground temperatures. Snow depths will be measured by probing, and lake-ice thickness, by drilling a hole. It will be determined, by recording circuits of breaking cables, if ice-wedges have cracked. Travel to Illisarvik, Garry Island, Herschel Island and Paulatuk will be by snowmobile, helicopter, or plane.

The findings of this research will be communicated through publications and posters, which will be deposited at the Aurora Research Institute library for public access.
This study will be conducted from June 8 to November 30, 2006 at the following locations: Garry Island (69 29.78 N 135 45.41 W), Illisarvik (69 28.78 N 134 35.59 W), Red Lake (68 44.88 N 134 15.46 W), Bar C (69 02.21 N 134 38.75 W), Seal Lake (69 12.19 N 134 41.67 W), Dennis Lagoon (69 21.69 N 134 41.80 W).