Active Layer Monitoring Network in the Mackenzie Valley

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region

Tags: physical sciences, water quality, active layer, ground temperature, permafrost, climate change, hydrology, environmental change

Principal Investigator: Nixon, Frederick M (3)
Licence Number: 14011
Organization: Geological Survey of Canada, NRCan
Licensed Year(s): 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990
Issued: May 31, 2006

Project Description: The active layer, overlying the permafrost layer, is the surface earth material that thaws and re-freezes each year. Active layer thickness and character can influence hunting, fishing, forestry, gardening, transportation and construction. Changes in the active layer can contribute to landslides which may damage structures, hamper transportation, affect water quality, and influence surface and subsurface hydrology. It is important to understand how the active layer will respond to environmental change, including climate warming.

Researchers will conduct surveys from Fort Simpson to the Arctic Coast in August and September. Travel will be by road, small boat, helicopter, and on foot. This is the sixteenth annual survey of thaw depth using a network of measuring devices (thaw tubes) and temperature data loggers along a transect from Fort Simpson to Tuktoyaktuk. The tubes consist of small diameter water-filled pipes anchored at 4 m depths, protruding about 30cm above the surface, to record the maximum annual thaw depth. Temperature loggers will be buried just below the surface. Ten meter ground temperature cables will be installed at a few sites. Annual readings over a number of years will inform as to whether there is a change in thaw depth and its relation to temperature.

Reports and published results will be sent to the communities and regional governing organizations. Local guides, students and contractors will be hired for short periods.

The study will be conducted from 10 August to 10 September, 2006 at sixty sites from Fort Simpson to the Beaufort Sea coast.