Active Layer Monitoring Network in the Mackenzie Valley

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region

Tags: physical sciences, active layer, ground temperature, vegetation, climate change, hydrology, snow, erosion

Principal Investigator: Nixon, Frederick M (3)
Licence Number: 14172
Organization: Geological Survey of Canada, NRCan
Licenced Year(s): 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990
Issued: Jun 06, 2007

Objective(s): To conduct surveys of thaw depth and temperature in order to understand how the active layer will respond to environmental change, including climate warming.

Project Description: The active layer is the earth overlying permafrost that thaws from the surface and re-freezes each year, and it responds to climate change. Active layer thickness influences vegetation and soil conditions, potentially influencing hunting, forestry, etc. and it’s, thickness, texture and moisture content affects foundations. Changes in the active layer and thaw depth can contribute to slope instability with impacts on transportation, structures, stream/river water quality, and hydrology. It is important to understand how the active layer varies locally and regionally and how it will respond to environmental change, including climate change.

This is the 17th annual survey of a network of thaw depth measuring tubes and temperature data loggers along a transect extending from Fort Simpson to Tuktoyaktuk. Surveys of 60 sites will be done in August (coordinates on file). Snow surveys will be carried out at selected sites in the Delta during mid April. The thaw tubes consist of 2.5cm diameter water filled pipes anchored at 4 meters depth and protruding about 30cm above the surface that record the maximum annual thaw depth at a site. Temperature loggers are installed in small screens above ground and buried just below the surface. Ten meter ground temperature cables have been installed at a few sites to supplement the above instrumentation. Annual readings over a number of years will tell if there is a change in thaw depth and its relation to temperature conditions. Work will be based out of Inuvik, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson. Travel will be by road, small boat and helicopter, with access on foot from road or river.

Communication of the research activities/findings is performed through the research licensing process. Published results are sent to communities and regional governing organizations. A permafrost display at the Visitor Centre in Inuvik is a legacy of this project, and posters have been set to Schools in the region.
Fieldwork will be conducted from June 6 to September 1, 2007.