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: 16504
Organization: Natural Resources Canada
Licensed Year(s): 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Issued: Mar 11, 2019
Project Team: David Burgess (Party Chief, NRCAN), Brad Danielson (Technical support, Fiera Biological Consulting)

Objective(s): Characterize the long-term (>50 years) climatic conditions and annual rate of mass change for the Melville ice cap, NWT.

Project Description: The objective of this research is to characterize the long-term (>50 years) climatic conditions and annual rate of mass change for the Melville ice cap, NWT.

Glacier mass balance is defined as the difference between the amount of snow accumulated on a glacier (generally termed winter balance) and the amount lost due to melt (summer balance) over the course of a given year. Due to logistical constraints however, measurements of the high Arctic glaciers are limited to one spring visit per year. Hence winter balance is measured directly from mass balance poles drilled into the ice the previous spring, while summer balance is inferred from both pole measurements and meteorological data recorded at 11 automatic weather stations deployed across the high Arctic monitoring network. The mass balance pole arrays at each monitoring site span the full elevation range of the glacier basin or small ice caps being measured. In this project, mass balance is measured at each pole as function of snow depth and density (winter balance) and pole height difference over 2 successive visits, or 1year (net balance). 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 elevation bands in order to quantify the net annual mass balance at the basin- or ice-cap wide scale.

Educational Opportunities: Communities will be provided with annual field reports summarizing results of the annual glacier change and meteorological measurements, as well as be notified of any sightings of wildlife in the area during the site visitation.

Results are communicated to individuals and communities in the NWT via direct reporting through fax to the Hunters and Trappers Committees of Ulukhaktok and Sachs Harbour. Plain language reports are also submitted annually to the Aurora Research Institute compendium, which reach the broader scientific and public audience.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 12, 2019 to April 15, 2019.