Snow compaction and permafrost monitoring

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, ground temperature, permafrost, snow

Principal Investigator: Wilson, Alice (3)
Licence Number: 16702
Organization: Aurora Research Institute
Licensed Year(s): 2022 2021 2020
Issued: Feb 26, 2020
Project Team: Steve Kokelj, Joel McAlister, Ashley Rudy, Edwin Amos, Ryan McLeod, Greg Elias

Objective(s): To determine the influence of snow manipulation on permafrost temperatures in different environments along the Inuvik-Tuk Highway; and, to better understand the relationship between snow cover and ground surface temperatures in both natural and built environments.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4625.

The primary objective of this research is to determine the influence of snow manipulation on permafrost temperatures in different environments along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH). A secondary objective is to better understand the relationship between snow cover and ground surface temperatures in both natural and built environments.

There will be six sites located along the ITH for the snow manipulation. These sites will be paired with established long-term permafrost monitoring sites in peatlands, hill tops, and borrow pits both north and south of tree line. The sites will be instrumented with three 2-3 m temperature cables and several surface loggers located a few centimeters below the surface. A 50 x 50 m area surrounding the loggers will manipulated by compacting snow with a snow-cat several times throughout the winters.

In years 2 and 3 the research team will seek to establish additional sites across the tree line transition east of the Highway between Inuvik and Trail Valley Creek and monitor variability in natural conditions, and will work with Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk Hamlet to assess variation in the snow and surface conditions in the communities, or under buildings with vented and non-vented crawl space.

The research team are working with the Inuvialuit Land Administration to train Environmental Monitors (EMs) from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region communities in permafrost research and monitoring. Both EMs and wildlife monitors will be utilized as necessary when working on Inuvialuit land.

The project will be communicated through plain language presentations (i.e.: local Hunters and Trappers Committees and Renewable Resource Board Committee meetings; department of Infrastructure); presentations to students at local schools and through outreach opportunities with the Aurora Research Institute, such as GeoWeek, Tuk Science Day, and Science Rendezvous events; local conferences, including NWT Geoscience Forum; local media; and, public lectures.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 26, 2020 to December 31, 2020.