Deltaic Lake Sediments as Recorders of Past Carbon Export from Arctic River Drainage Basins

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, climatology, permafrost, climate change, limnology, sedimentology

Principal Investigator: Vonk, Jorien (1)
Licence Number: 14900
Organization: ETH-Zurich
Licensed Year(s): 2011 2009 2007
Issued: Apr 13, 2011
Project Team: Mrs. Claire Griffin (Graduate Student, Marine Research Institute, University of Texas)

Objective(s): To collect surface sediments, bank and levee sediments, particulate sediments and shallow sediment cores from lakes in the Mackenie River Delta, and to evaluate their utility as potential archives of information concerning past permafrost stability by assessing down-core changes in the age and supply of terrestrial carbon.

Project Description: The research project goal is to collect surface sediments, bank and levee sediments, particulate sediments and shallow sediment cores from lakes in the Mackenie River Delta, and to evaluate their utility as potential archives of information concerning past permafrost stability by assessing down-core changes in the age and supply of terrestrial carbon. In 2007 and 2009, teams led by Prof. Tim Eglinton (then at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, now at ETH Zurich) sampled numerous delta lakes that shown great potential for tracing the history of fluvial carbon dynamics of the Mackenzie River. This year's fieldwork will aim to collect samples during the actual period of lake sediment deposition that will connect Mackenzie River material to the lake sediment archives.

Sampling is planned for the Spring Flood period or right after, when the Mackenzie River delivers particulate suspended sediments to its delta lakes. Access to the lakes will depend on ice conditions. Actual sampling will take place with sediment grab samples, push cores and spoons/spatulas.

The goal is to determine whether past changes in carbon export can be reconstructed from the Mackenzie River from lake sediment records in the delta. The research team wishes to use this as a context for assessing whether carbon discharge is changing in response to changing climate. Local involvement in this project is welcomed, both in terms of participation in fieldwork and subsequent studies of the samples recovered.

The researchers plan to prepare and distribute scientific reports on the results to the Aurora Research Institute, to publish academic papers, and present them at international conferences (IMOG, Switzerland, Sept-2011; AGU, San Francisco, Dec-2011).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 15, 2011 to June 15, 2011.