Permafrost mapping and food security vulnerability assessment in Jean Marie River First Nation Lands

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: social sciences, permafrost, climate change, food security

Principal Investigator: Laurent, Cyrielle C (3)
Licence Number: 16351
Organization: Yukon College / Yukon Research Centre
Licenced Year(s): 2018
Issued: Jul 06, 2018
Project Team: Margaret Ireland (Community Coordinator, Jean Marie River First Nation), Louis-Phillipe Roy (Permafrost researcher, Yukon Research Centre), Nina Vogt (Assistant Researcher, Yukon Research Centre)

Objective(s): To extend the vulnerability map by including the McGill and Deep Lake area.

Project Description: The proposed project will build on the proven methodology used during previous permafrost studies in Jean Marie River First Nation (JMRFN). It aims to extend the vulnerability map by including the McGill and Deep Lake area. These lakes are traditionally and culturally very important to JMRFN (for example, the area surrounding these lakes is also used repeatedly by caribou year after year) and the same level of knowledge about this area as was obtained through the previous work is needed in JMR’s traditional territory. We also want to refine the knowledge on the area mapped in the past by using a non-invasive geophysical technique that will provide additional information on permafrost characteristics.

Air photos have been collection to scope potential sites for field investigation. This will be refined with community members input to target sites that the community is interested in looking at specifically. Transportation to reach these sites will then be discussed and arranged by JMRFN’s staff members in collaboration with Elders and land users.

Several sites to investigate will be identified in the study area. These sites, where thaw-sensitive permafrost is suspected, will be surveyed, and physical and environmental information such as soil nature, active layer thicknesses, ground ice contents, and ground temperature will be collected. Permafrost cores will be collected with a light portable earth drill. This will allow an assessment of soil texture and ground ice content. Temperature loggers will be installed in the boreholes to measure ground thermal regime. These temperatures will be used with other characteristics to assess the permafrost susceptibility to degradation. Geotechnical tools will also be used as a way to map permafrost boundary and thickness on the studied sites, and extend the observation from the boreholes. Vegetation and how it is affected by permafrost thaw will also be looked at. For this the research team will be guided by Elders to show which plants are important to the community and record observations specifically for these plants. The team will identify and characterize plants within quadrats (small square areas).

The GIS analysis will combine the field data, type of surficial deposit (geological data), and the type of vegetation. The geology and the vegetation both influence greatly the presence of permafrost. The geology and the field observations will be used to determine the vulnerability of the land to permafrost thaw. Finally, the map will be refined with detailed air photo analysis.

Determining impacts on traditional activities and food security will follow the same method applied in previous projects in JMR, applied to the extended study area. Statistics will be calculated to update the percentages of hunting, trapping, gathering, and occupancy sites impacted by permafrost thawing. Only use existing Traditional Knowledge (TK) data will be used, no TK will be collected during this project.

The community of Jean Marie River will be involved from beginning to end in this project. Several meetings will be held to keep the community involved of the project advancement. As a member of the Dehcho First Nations, Jean Marie River can spread the word of the research project occurring the region. The Dehcho drum editor will be invited to come to one of the community presentation this summer. Finally, the research team participate to northern meetings and conference as often as possible to share the research not only with other researchers but also with other community members.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 8, 2018 to September 8, 2018.