Landscape Change on Banks Island.

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, ground temperature, permafrost, vegetation, remote sensing

Principal Investigator: Lantz, Trevor C. (20)
Licence Number: 15714
Organization: University of Victoria
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015
Issued: Jul 15, 2015
Project Team: Trevor Lantz (Principal Investigator , UVIC), Steve Kokelj (Project Researcher, GNWT), Robert Fraser (Project Researcher, NRCan), Emily Cameron (Student Researcher, UVIC), Kazlyn Bonner (Student Researcher, UVIC), Paige Bennett (Student Researcher, UVIC)

Objective(s): To use remote sensing to document the rate and extent of landscape change on Banks Island; to examine the effects of tundra disturbances using detailed field investigations; and to establish permanent vegetation and berry monitoring plots to track change over time.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are:
1) To use remote sensing to document the rate and extent of landscape change on Banks Island;
2) To examine the effects of tundra disturbances using detailed field investigations; and
3) To establish permanent vegetation and berry monitoring plots to track change over time.

Use remote sensing to document the rate and extent of landscape change on Banks Island. In this project the research team is using remote sensing (air photographs, Landsat and high-resolution images) to track major changes to the landscape (thaw slumps, drying lakes, and vegetation change). The research team will assess changes since the early 60s by comparing images from multiple time periods and conducting field surveys to ground truth our findings. In 2015, work will focus primarily on the distribution of thaw slumps and drying lakes. Mapping landscape change will also provide a basis for producing watershed sensitivity maps that will contribute to regional planning and assessment.

Determine the impact of landscape change on vegetation and terrestrial ecosystem processes. To characterize the impact of landscape change on vegetation and key ecosystem processes the research team will use field sampling to compare impacted areas (thaw slumps, drying lakes, and areas of ice wedge ponding) to undisturbed tundra. Vegetation sampling will involve standard methods to characterize: 1) vegetation structure, 2) community composition, and 3) berry productivity. Sampling will also be used to characterize: 1) thaw depth, 2) ground temperature and moisture (thermistors attached to data loggers), 3) soil geochemistry, 4) snowpack (i-button arrays), 5) Carbon Dioxide and Methane emissions (in-situ chamber measurements and surface laser scanning), and 6) ground albedo (pyranometers).

Over the past several years, the research team has established permanent plots to characterize vegetation, berry productivity, soils, ground temperatures, thaw depth, and snow conditions at sites across the southern Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). In this project the team plans to extend this work by establishing monitoring sites near Sachs Harbour. At these sites the research team will measure vegetation structure, plant community composition, the productivity of edible berries, active layer depth, soil chemistry, and near surface ground temperatures. At several sites the team will also install deep ground temperature cables to characterize permafrost temperatures.

To summarize project findings the research team will make presentations at northern meetings including the Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program Results workshop (recently held in Inuvik). When possible the team will also travel to the ISR to present project findings to the Inuvialuit Game Council. Spatial datasets on the distribution and magnitude of landscape scale disturbances will be added to the NWT Discovery Portal and the NWT Spatial Data Warehouse online map viewer. Field data on vegetation structure, community composition, berry production, active layer depth, and soils will be uploaded to the NWT Discovery Portal.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 15, 2015 to December 31, 2015.