Whati Permafrost Vulnerability Mapping
Principal Investigator: Bonnaventure , Philip P. (2)
Licence Number: 16643
Organization: University of Lethbridge
Licensed Year(s): 2020 2019
Issued: Dec 17, 2019
Project Team: Seamus Daly, Kyle Bexte

Objective(s): To create a permafrost hazard/vulnerability map of the community of Whati, NT.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4631.

The goal of this project is to create a permafrost hazard/vulnerability map of the community of Whati, NT. In addition to the general map, ideal location(s) for future graveyard and residential development will be identified.

The three main deliverables outlined in conversations with representatives from Whati are: suitable location(s) for future graveyard development, suitable locations(s) for future residential development, and a more general permafrost vulnerability map of the community. The field season in August 2019 was dedicated to setting up weather stations and microclimate stations in Whati. Consultations with the community about possible locations for the stations will take place in the lead up to the field season. In order to take in situ measurements used to verify the data the research team will use a soil probe and shovel to test the soil/permafrost of the area. Soil samples may be collected in order to derive useful soil characteristics. Vegetation surveys of our sites will be performed by observation while in the field. Photos will be taken as well as GPS points in order to create accurate site descriptions and maps.

The 2020 Whati field season will less involved than the 2019 season. This season will involve replacing broken sensors and equipment as well as downloading the data from the microclimate stations. In addition to station upkeep more in situ data will be recorded. Once again meeting with community members, consultation and a trip out to the sensors with community members will be part of the field season.

The permafrost vulnerability mapping will be performed by creating spatially distributed climatological surfaces, soil properties surfaces, permafrost properties surfaces and vegetation cover surfaces. These will all act as inputs to the permafrost model. Existing climate data will be used to inform the understanding of the climate in the region as well as future decision making. In addition to using it as a model input the historic borehole data will be used to create a baseline and to understand the historic soil conditions of the area.

Finite element modelling is a technique that allows the user to simplify complex real world situations in order to model energy transfer and fluxes across varying mediums. This technique is ideal for modelling the addition of structures such as residential buildings and developments such as graveyards in permafrost conditions.

This project is in collaboration with the community of Whati. All data will be owned by the community. It will be delivered via hard drives. The results of the study will be communicated to the community via a report written by the Principal Investigator. Throughout the project quarterly updates are to be provided to the community council. More details can be provided if needed as they are in our funding application.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 23, 2020 to September 16, 2020.