Glacier mass balance of the Melville South Ice Cap

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, climate change, glaciology, water balance, snow water equivalence

Principal Investigator: Burgess, David O (11)
Licence Number: 16238
Organization: Geological Survey of Canada
Licensed Year(s): 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Issued: Feb 10, 2018

Objective(s): To estimate the amount of water equivalent mass the Melville South Ice Cap loses (or gains) on an annual basis.

Project Description: The objectives of this study are to estimate the amount of water equivalent mass the Melville South Ice Cap loses (or gains) on an annual basis, and to derive a long-term climate record from glacier measurements and weather station data in order to determine trends in climate change for this region of the NWT.

Mass balance is measured at each of the ~21 poles across the ice cap as function of snow depth and density (winter balance), and pole height difference over 2 successive visits (net balance) over the course of 1 full year. Observations at each pole are augmented with hourly temperature and snow pack/ ice height measurements collected from the automatic weather stations. Mass balance data is extrapolated across the entire ice cap in order to quantify the net annual mass balance and volume change of the ice cap as a whole.

Shortly after each field season on the Melville South ice cap, the research team submit a summary of the results including wildlife siting’s, climate, and glacier change measurements to the communities of Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok. This information gives the local communities background information pertaining to hunting and climate change that would otherwise not be available. In many cases, local people assist on a seasonal or full time basis.

Results are communicated through annual summary reports submitted to the Hunters and Trappers Committees of Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok. The reports are submitted by Fax in late June upon returning to Ottawa after the field season is complete. When funding permits, the research team plan to visit these communities to deliver a presentation and discuss the changes that the ice cap has experienced over the previous decades.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 9, 2018 to May 10, 2018.