Winter Flow Regime and Icing Dynamics of Tundra Streams near the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, remote sensing, plants, soil chemistry, forest ecosystem

Principal Investigator: Ensom, Timothy P (3)
Licence Number: 16094
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: May 12, 2017
Project Team: Timothy Ensom (Principal Investigator, PhD Candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University), Philip Marsh (Research Supervisor, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science, Wilfrid Laurier University), Steve Kokelj (Research Partner, Permafrost Scientist, Northwest Territories Geological Survey)

Objective(s): To determine the spatial extent, distribution, and timing of winter icing events in streams along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway through groundbased and aerial reconnaissance of stream crossings.

Project Description: The objectives of the project are to:
1) determine the spatial extent, distribution, and timing of winter icing events in streams along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) through groundbased and aerial reconnaissance of stream crossings;
2) identify relations between physical watershed characteristics and icing dynamics through field observations and analyses of watercourse and catchment morphological parameters in geographic information system (GIS);
3) monitor the thermal regime of ground and water in riparian systems (both ephemeral and continuously flowing), geochemical water characteristics, soil characteristics and moisture, and water level in watersheds producing icings using existing and new instrumentation;
4) analyze multidisciplinary datasets obtained from monitoring to understand the processes that may trigger icing development including air temperature changes, thresholds in snow accumulation and ice thickness, active layer freezeback, groundwater dynamics and lake storage and/or water level changes; and,
5) engage local community members and organizations in the research.

This project is a partnership between the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation (DOT), the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Long-term research activities in the fields of meteorology, hydrology and permafrost science, especially Trail Valley Creek, will help provide context and direction for the investigation of icing dynamics. Supplementary geotechnical data and observations from highway construction and maintenance will be available from DOT. It is expected that equipment will be installed at up to nine streams near the ITH to measure ground temperature, water temperature, and soil moisture. This equipment will remain in place for about four years, and will be regularly monitored.

Research results will be provided through presentations to interested parties in Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, and Yellowknife following sufficient data collection and analysis. Research papers, plain-language summary reports, and a PhD thesis will be provided to interested individuals and communities. Results will also be available within the government and university research communities, and will be provided to the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 11, 2017 to August 25, 2017.