Recent changes in carbon source-sink relationships and greenhouse gas emissions in forest and peatland ecosystems along the Mackenzie Valley region of Canada

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

Tags: physical sciences, climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon, atmospheric pollution

Principal Investigator: Bhatti, Jagtar (5)
Licence Number: 14518
Organization: Natural Resources Canada - Canadian Forest Service
Licensed Year(s): 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Issued: May 08, 2009
Project Team: Dr. Natalia Startsev (Co-project investigator, NRCan-CFS), Dr. Michael Whiticar (Co-project investigator, University of Victoria), Dr. Charles Tarnocai (Co-project investigator, AAFC), Dr. Michael Brady (Project Coordinator, NRCan-CFS), Mr. Tom Lakusta (Collaborator, GNWT-ENRD), Ms. Ruth Errington (Field project leader, NRCan-CFS)

Objective(s): The objectives of this study are to: (1) Map and assess changes in the distribution and composition of forest and peatland ecosystems due to climate changes; (2) Estimate Carbon storage (and variation) in boreal to arctic ecoregions of the Mackenzie valley; (3) Assess interannual and seasonal variations and key processes controlling CO2, CH4 and N2O dynamics.

Project Description: The objectives of this study are to: (1) Map and assess changes in the distribution and composition of forest and peatland ecosystems due to climate changes; (2) Estimate Carbon storage (and variation) in boreal to arctic ecoregions of the Mackenzie valley; (3) Assess interannual and seasonal variations and key processes controlling CO2, CH4 and N2O dynamics.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) are produced in the soil and escape from the soil surface in the air, adding to global warming. Gas production from the bogs and forest soils will be monitored through the year using following methods:
1. Surface emissions are being measured by collecting gas samples from the surface gas chambers, attached to a permanent surface collars, at pre-determined time periods, such as 10, 20 and 40 minutes. This permits the calculation of how much gas was produced during this time from the soil.
2. Depth of soil concentrations of greenhouse gases are being measured using metal tubes, inserted to the depth of 10, 20, 30 and 50 cm in the soil; the gas is aspirated in syringes and analysed using infrared sensors to determine amount of methane, N2O and CO2 in it. The system will also monitor the response of ecosystem (soil moisture, vegetation, chemistry) to changing external conditions such as precipitation, temperature extremes and permafrost thawing.

Through the collaboration with GNWT, northern scientists, technicians and students will be involved in the study. As well the communities that these regional offices interact with will be contacted and updated on the researchers’ activities.

For public outreach, they will maintain a web site and produce a booklet. This study will provide capacity building and training for Northern Scientists and employees of the GNWT including technicians and students. A number of Government of Northwest Territories employees from regional offices will be directly involved in fieldwork to provide northern technical people with an opportunity to maintain and improve their terrestrial ecosystem ecological survey and study skills. In addition, the regional offices will hire NWT college or university students, who will be trained to assist in the fieldwork for each region. Highlights of field and experimental work will be communicated to Northern Communities through collaboration with the GNWT. Additional mechanisms for technology transfer to northern communities (through workshops, conferences, and seminars) will also be used as opportunities and needs arise.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 11 to October 31, 2009, near Inuvik (south of town, by the road - 68 18' 55" 133 25' 57"), Fort Simpson (south of town, by the road - 61 38' 13" 121 23' 51"), and Norman Wells (southwest of town, across Mackenzie river - 65 12' 36" 127 0' 5").