Relations between surface conditions and near-surface ground ice at Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary, Mackenzie Delta, NWT

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, permafrost, snow, permafrost distribution

Principal Investigator: Morse, Peter D (3)
Licence Number: 13999
Organization: Carleton University
Licensed Year(s): 2008 2007 2006
Issued: Jun 08, 2006

Project Description: Permafrost composition and distribution at Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary in the Mackenzie Delta is unknown, and thawing as a result of disturbance may result in surface subsidence. The objective of this study is to determine near-surface permafrost conditions and distributions as they relate to vegetation and snow cover.

Permafrost is a function of mean annual air temperature at a continental scale but surface conditions control local variation. There are locations in the outer delta that have been shown to contain excess ground ice in near-surface sediments. Thawing of this permafrost as a result of disturbance of surface conditions may result in subsidence. Permafrost composition and distribution at Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary is unknown, and the purpose of this project is to determine its variation and distribution. The project objectives are to collect ground ice samples along previously established vegetation and snow courses, and to determine the quantitative relations between ground-ice configuration and the surface conditions. The objectives will be achieved by sampling ground ice within the distinct terrain units and the transition zones, and performing a multivariate analysis to determine relations to surface variables.

A hand-held CRREL drill operated by two people will be used to extract cores, 5cm in diameter and 2m in length, in near-surface permafrost at three to four locations at each study site. Extracted cores will be sectioned into 10cm lengths and bagged for processing at the lab. Thermistors and a datalogger will be installed in a 1m deep hole at each coring location. Field activity will span from mid-June (for approximately three weeks) to early July, continuing again at the beginning of August until the middle of September. Transportation to the field will be by boat, and possibly by helicopter (for Site 4). Drilling flights (consisting of just the natural earth materials) will be collected on a tarp and used to backfill holes. All refuse material will be contained and brought back to Inuvik for proper disposal.

Copies of publications and posters will be shared with community organizations through the Aurora Research Institute.
The study will be conducted from June 19 to July 7, and August 1 to September 15, 2006 in the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary at the following locations: Site 1 (69.5010N, 35.2877W), Site 2 (69.4501N, 135.1091W), Site 3 (69.4171N, 135.2025W), Site 4 (69.3634N, 135.4821W), Site 5 (69.3695N, 134.9829W), Site 6 (69.3621N, 134.9639W), Site 7(69.3061N, 135.2956W), Site 8 (69.3216N, 135.2131W), Site 9 (69.3265N, 135.0666W), Site 10 (69.3030N, 134.9982W), Site 11 (69.3023N, 134.9716W).