Landscape Change on Banks Island.
Principal Investigator: Lantz, Trevor C. (24)
Licence Number: 15877
Organization: University of Victoria
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015
Issued: May 04, 2016
Project Team: Dr. Trevor Lantz ((Project Coordinator), UVic), Dr. Steve Kokelj ((Project Researcher), NWT Geological Survey), Dr. Robert Fraser ( (Project Researcher), NRCan), Emily Cameron ((Student Researcher), UVic), Paige Bennett ((Student Researcher), UVic), Kiyo Campbell ((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 use participatory mapping and interviews to document Inuvialuit knowledge of landscape change on Banks Island.

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) Use participatory mapping and interviews to document Inuvialuit Knowledge of Landscape Change on Banks Island.

In this project the research team are 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 team will assess changes since the early 1960’s by comparing images from multiple time periods and conducting field surveys to ground truth the findings. This 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.

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 have also established permanent plots to characterize vegetation, berry productivity, soils, ground temperatures, thaw depth, and snow conditions at sites across the southern Inuvialuit Settlement Region. In this project the research team plan to extend this work by establishing monitoring sites near Sachs Harbour. At these sites the 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, deep ground temperature cables will be installed to characterize permafrost temperatures.

This part of the project will employ participatory multimedia mapping (PMM) techniques to integrate digital video and photography and field interviews with local experts. PMM combines participatory photography and video, web-based mapping, and lived experience interviews to capture the participant’s experience out on the land in the Beaufort Delta Region. Between 2010 and 2015, the protocol has been implemented by Inuvialuit monitors and youth in Inuvik, Aklavik, and Tuktoyaktuk. In 2016, the research team plan to use the PMM protocol to interview Inuvialuit experts living is Sachs Harbour regarding landscape change and permafrost thaw. In the first step of the PMM process, participants will take part in a digital tools skill-building session that focuses on familiarizing participants with digital cameras, audio recording devices, and global positioning system (GPS). Subsequently, local youth will be paired with Inuvialuit or Gwich’in knowledge holders from the same community as them. Out on the land, the pair will document environmental conditions with photographs, and videos georeferenced using GPS units. At the site of an environmental observation, the youth will ask the expert a series of questions about the observation. The expert response will be filmed and transcribed. The text of the interview, portions of video, and still photographs will be entered into the web-based map, geo-referenced to the exact place the observation was made. The interviews will be recorded with both a digital camera, and a digital audio recording device. The PMM outings on the land will be facilitated by University of Victoria researchers.

This project will involve the participation of Inuvialuit land-users who will be interviewed regarding their knowledge of Landscape Change on Banks Island. Local hunters will also assist as wildlife monitors in support of fieldwork.

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 Inuvialuit Settlement Region 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 research team will use a web-based map to organize and communicate the observations made by local experts. By recording local observations and organizing them in a community map this project will make the knowledge of local land users accessible (

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016.