Beaufort Sea Coastal and Nearshore Geoscience Research 2018

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, sediment chemistry, oceanography, monitoring, ocean chemistry

Principal Investigator: Whalen, Dustin JR (8)
Licence Number: 16490
Organization: Natural Resources Canada
Licensed Year(s): 2019 2018 2017
Issued: Feb 04, 2019

Objective(s): To improve the knowledge of physical conditions in the Arctic coastal zone in order to help government agencies, corporations and local residents understand, mitigate and reduce the impacts of climate driven changes.

Project Description: The primary objective is to provide the means to improve the knowledge of physical conditions in the Arctic coastal zone in order to help government agencies, corporations and local residents understand mitigate and reduce the impacts of climate driven changes. This research has 3 targeted objectives: 1) to gain a better understanding of coastal permafrost; 2) to provide and updated assessment of the state of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) coastline; and, 3) to gain a better understanding of nearshore sediment dynamics with respect to ecosystems and communities.

Over the past two decades, the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) has been investigating the range of potential impacts of global climate change and hydrocarbon development on the coastal and nearshore environment of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. The western Canadian Arctic coast is one of the most rapidly changing coastlines in the world and is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. The region provides a rich subsistence lifestyle for its inhabitants as well as considerable potential for non-renewable resource development. Because of this there is a need for more information on long term impacts of climate change. Identifying locations most sensitive to shoreline erosion will be an important component of northern infrastructure planning and development. This data will also provide future projections of coastal habitat loss based on climate change based models of coastal flooding and erosion, using relative sea level change projections, knowledge of current coastal habitats and real time observations of coastal change.

Targeted seabed mapping has become vital for effective management of marine resources. An important tool in moving towards ecosystem based management and provides better understanding of the relationships among marine seabed characteristics, marine mammals, fish, and localized oceanography. Visualizing the spatial distribution of the seabed and water chemistry in the nearshore region is fundamental to the understanding of marine ecosystems and the ability to manage human activities to deliver effective sustainable development and maintain marine ecosystem function.

Sediment Sample Coring: A track mounted geotechnical drill rig will be used to core frozen permafrost and collecting sediment samples in the nearshore region where thawed sediments will be present at the seabed. The research team anticipate drilling 3. 20-30m core holes near the village of Tuktoyaktuk; one on land on Tuktoyaktuk Island, one on the shoreline (just in front of the island and one approximately 500 m from shore. Each hole will be cased with 2” PVC tubing to allow installation of a temperature cable. Temperature cables will consist of 20-25 thermistors on an electrical cable. A data logger will be installed to capture temperature readings several times per day at depth in the borehole.

Coastal Monitoring: High resolution GPS surveys will take place at a number of coastal locations throughout the Mackenzie Delta, Richard Island, Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula and Cape Bathurst region. The surveyor at each location will walk along the coastline recording positional data from a RTK-GPS system corrected to a previously established local base position. In addition to the GPS work a number of UAV (unmanned aerial surveys) will be conducted. The surveys will employ a small quad copter style UAV that will fly no greater than 50 m above the ground and nearshore coastal area for periods up to 25 min. Helicopters and small boats will be used as the primary means of transportation to and from each site. No more than a few hours will be spent at each site.

Sediment and Ocean Dynamics: Deployment of non-invasive seabed instruments to measure sediment mobility, waves, noise in the water column, currents and water chemistry. The instruments will be deployed in Tuktoyaktuk Harbour, Cape Bathurst and Kugmallit Bay mid-June and remain on the seabed until August. Instruments are housed on small mooring that either consists of a flat plate or a small tripod (> 90 cm high). Some of the moorings will be able to broadcast live data through a cable or radio telemetry beacon connected to the weather station located at East Whitefish as part of the monitoring work.

In addition to the summer field work a number of community members throughout the ISR (primarily the Mackenzie Delta) have become interested and involved in our Spring Breakup newsletter. This is strictly on a volunteer basis and provides near real-time photographs and observations during ice breakup. The newsletter is distributed to over 400 people and is now available for public access on Facebook. Now in its 12th year the success and interest in the newsletter would not be possible without local participation. This year the research team are working with local students funded through the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation on various projects related to Spring Break-up. As always the team will continue to provide technical advice and present the results to the communities within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

This is a multidisciplinary project, portions of this work have been presented through on-site consultation and results reporting to all communities and to the Inuvialuit Game Council, Inuvialuit Land Administration, Hunters and Trappers Committee and the Fisheries Joint Management Committee by the Geological Survey of Canada (Dustin Whalen), and project collaborators from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Loseto and Lea) at various times over the past several years. Project participants will be available to present past results and future project plans to the local communities of Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik during the 2018 field campaigns.

In 2018, the project was presented as a public research talk. School presentations and more formal presentations were presented to the Inuvialuit Game Council (March meeting), the FJMC and at the Beaufort Sea Partnership meeting. Consultation and discussion with the Tuktoyaktuk Hamlet Council and the Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Committees took place in March and recent field work updates were presented (by Dustin Whalen) in August. This work continues to work closely with the Inuvialuit Land Administration to allow for meaningful discussion and data sharing in support of coastal mitigation and adaptation. Results of this and past field work are to be shared directly with Inuvialuit Settlement Region communities through various hardcopy products and digital products. The Spring Break-up reporting through the newsletter and or public Facebook page provides an excellent resource on current conditions and ongoing research in that area.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 5, 2019 to September 7, 2019.