Impacts of recent climate warming on Canada’s northern aquatic ecosystems

Regions: Dehcho Region, North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, contaminants, sediment chemistry, climate change, carbon fluxes, permafrost thaw

Principal Investigator: Blais, Jules M (7)
Licence Number: 15450
Organization: University of Ottawa
Licenced Year(s): 2014
Issued: Apr 01, 2014
Project Team: Jennifer Korosi (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Ottawa), Joshua Thienpont (Postdoctoral Fellow, Brock University), Kristen Coleman (Graduate Student, Queen's University), Linda Kimpe (Research Coordinator, University of Ottawa)

Objective(s): To determine the impact of shoreline expansion and forest/peat submergence from thawing permafrost on contaminant and carbon fluxes to lakes in the Yellowknife region.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are:
1) to determine the impact of shoreline expansion and forest/peat submergence from thawing permafrost on contaminant and carbon fluxes to lakes in the Yellowknife region;
2) to develop novel approaches to track terrestrial organic matter sources in lakes, in order to assess how climate warming and permafrost thaw are affecting the delivery of terrestrial organic matter and associated contaminants to lakes; and,
3) to compare and contrast the impacts of thawing permafrost on aquatic ecosystems between Yellowknife and Inuvik, where we have conducted extensive research in the past.

Lakes will be accessed mainly by helicopter under Polar Continental Shelf Project logistical support. Since the research team will be conducting the fieldwork in April, the team will be landing on the lakes and sampling through the ice. Sediment cores will be collected using gravity corers (3 inch diameter tubes that collect sediment from the bottom of lakes). This procedure is non-intrusive and causes no harmful environmental impacts. Lake water will be collected for water testing (nutrients, metals, algal pigments, organic chemicals).

The principal investigator has a long history of collaboration with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) on lakes affected by thermokarst near Yellowknife and the Mackenzie Delta upland region. Dr. Kokelj (AANDC) will work with the group to characterize lakes according to the state of permafrost degradation near shorelines, assist in site selection and field design, and collaborate on field implementation of the experimental studies. The research team also collaborates with the NWT Geoscience office and the Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program with AANDC.

The research team will communicate findings to the Northwest Territories. Researchers from the Ottawa, Queen's and Carleton Universities will also participate in public presentations and community meetings as they have done frequently in the past.




The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 2, 2014 to April 16, 2014.