Permafrost and climate change, western Arctic Canada

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, permafrost, climate change, glaciology, pingo

Principal Investigator: Burn, Chris R (31)
Licence Number: 14570
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: Jul 18, 2009
Project Team: Dr J. Ross Mackay (Scientist, University of British Columbia), Graham Gilbert (Assistant, Carleton University), Douglas Esagok (Assistant, guide, and collaborator, Inuvialuit Game Council), Vicky Hearn (Assistant, Durham University), Pascale Roy-Leveille (Assistant, Carleton University)

Objective(s): The principal objective of this work is to determine how permafrost conditions in the western Arctic will respond to climate change.

Project Description: The principal objective of this work is to determine how permafrost conditions in the western Arctic will respond to climate change. The researchers have been collecting data on ground temperatures and how they vary under different snow covers. They have also obtained ground temperatures to depths of 50 m to see how far the ground has warmed up with the warming of air temperature since 1970.
They also study conditions in the ground such as ground cracking in winter, to find out how that is controlled, and they have been measuring the growth of a small pingo at Illisarvik that has been growing for 14 years.

Most of the field work uses simple measurements made over a long period to tell how the environment is changing. They measure snow depth and ice thicknesses in the winter, ground temperatures by data loggers and on cables already installed in the ground, air temperatures using data loggers placed in radiation shields, and they measure the distances between many bench marks, and the tilt of these bench marks. They download their data loggers in the summer. At the end of the summer they probe the ground to determine how much has thawed out each year.

The researchers always hire someone to travel with them. For several years this has been Douglas Esagok. They plan to involve him again this year.

They have made several posters that have been distributed to agencies throughout the western Arctic (Parks Canada, Inuvik, Paulatuk; Herschel Island Park, Inuvik and Herschel Island). They annually attend the Science in the Changing North Conference in Yellowknife. They are in the process of preparing a plain language book on their work in collaboration with Steve Kokelj, to be published by DIAND. They are organizing a similar effort with regards to Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 01 to August 27, and December 03 to December 15, 2009, on Garry Island, Illisarvik, Paulatuk (near the community), Inuvik (adjacent to
Dempster Highway near the airport), Red Lake, Bar C, Seal Lake, and Dennis Lagoon.