Active layer moisture and carbon dynamics in the wetland-dominated zone of discontinuous permafrost
Principal Investigator: Schincariol, Robert A (1)
Licence Number: 14091
Organization: University of Western Ontario
Licenced Year(s): 2007
Issued: Dec 15, 2006
Project Team: Dr. W.L. Quinton (Co-Investigator, Wilfrid Laurier University), Dr. M. Hayashi (Co-Investigator, University of Calgary)

Objective(s): The research objective is to quantify the effects of climate change on the ground and surface water of Canada's subarctic. The focus is to determine how the flow of waters, and the geotechnical and soil properties of discontinuous permafrost, will adjust to changing air temperature, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, and precipitation.

Project Description: An improved understanding of the thaw and drainage processes, and exchanges of energy and moisture that control the flow of water in the vast wetland region of Canada is needed to improve weather and climate change predictions. Large-scale experiments on soils of the Central Mackenzie River basin will be used to elucidate moisture and carbon transport processes in the active layer. Laboratory based climate forcing experiments to take place in a climate chamber at the University of Western Ontario will be closely integrated with field studies in the basin. Initially two regions, one of high-albedo lichens and the other low-albedo mosses, and having a thaw front depth of approximately 1 m, will be marked for sampling. Peat samples 1.5 m in diameter and 2 m deep will be excavated in winter (to prevent damage to soil structure and vegetation from heavy equipment) and transported by freezer truck (-15 C) to the university climate chamber. How the hydrogeological, geotechnical, and biogeochemical properties of active layer change with varying atmospheric forcing (solar, air temperature, precipitation, CO2) will be tested. Local peat soil will be purchased from a licensed pit, transported to the excavation site, and used to fill the ground depressions to grade. In summer sample sites can be topped up if necessary and adjacent vegetation transplanted to re-naturalize the area.

Plain language reports and public presentations will be provided. Research results will be presented at conferences, and will be published in the scientific literature. Copies of all publications will be sent to the communities. Local contractors and labour will be employed for the excavation.
Fieldwork will take place from February 26 to March 2, 2007, and November 19-23, 2007 at the following sites: near km 566 on the Mackenzie Highway 62°16'30.65" N 122°36'11.47"W and approximately 60 km south from checkpoint near where the pipeline crosses the road.