Assessing the impact of small, Canadian Arctic river flows to the freshwater budget of the Canadian Archipelago

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: hydrology, geochemistry, oceanography, freshwater ecosystem

Principal Investigator: Alkire, Matthew B (3)
Licence Number: 15376
Organization: Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington
Licensed Year(s): 2016 2015 2014
Issued: Dec 19, 2013
Project Team: Andrew Jacobson (co-principle investigator, Northwestern University), Greg Lehn (Postdoctoral research associate, Northwestern University), Robie Macdonald (investigator, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Institute of Ocean Sciences)

Objective(s): To determine whether relatively small Canadian Arctic rivers significantly contribute to the total volume of freshwater that drains through Davis Strait and to determine if they are chemically distinct from larger North American rivers such as the Mackenzie and Yukon Rivers.

Project Description: There are two primary goals of this project: (1) determine whether relatively small Canadian Arctic rivers significantly contribute to the total volume of freshwater that drains through Davis Strait and (2) determine if they are chemically distinct from larger North American rivers such as the Mackenzie and Yukon Rivers. To achieve these goals the research team propose to collect water samples from seven different rivers and their estuaries spanning over Nunavut and the Northwest Territories over a three-year study period (June 2014, August 2015, and August 2016). In the first year (2014), samples will be collected only from Kuujjua and Thomsen rivers.

Each site will be visited and sampled over a five-day period during the month of June (following the spring floods/melt) or August (after breakup of the landfast ice cover) depending on the study year (2014, 2015, or 2016). These samples will be collected either by hand or by peristaltic pumps carried by researchers traveling in inflatable boats equipped with outboard motors. The research team will travel to the different sites via small airplane (Twin Otter aircraft) operated by Kenn Borek Air, Ltd. The research team will also meet with local community leaders to discuss and plan presentations that will be given by the scientists to the general public.

1) Local community members from Ulukhaktok will be invited to observe and/or participate in scientific sampling of Kuujuua River water.

2) The research team will work with members of Olokhaktomiut Hunters and Trappers Committee to coordinate public presentations summarizing the purpose of the research project, present results (in 2015 and 2016), and answer any questions from community members.

3) A website will be constructed after the first year of field work that presents and displays the data in a user-friendly format. Tutorials will illustrate the methods of sample collection, chemical analysis, and basic data analysis techniques such as linear regression and extrapolation. These interactive tutorials will demonstrate simple steps and then prompt the user to answer a question before moving on to the next step. An explanation of the correct answer will precede the next step of the tutorial so that users can learn about the various techniques involved in oceanographic and geochemical research. Finally, a slide show presentation will describe how local river/estuary systems relate to, and can have an impact on, the Arctic Ocean and Baffin Bay.

The research team will offer to give presentations to community leaders and high school students about the research. In addition, an interactive website will be posted online as part of this project and community members will be invited to explore the scientific results, methods of sample and data analysis, and the implications of the research for the Arctic freshwater budget.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 1, 2014 to July 10, 2014.