Mike Palmer

Manager, North Slave Research Centre
North Slave Research Centre (Yellowknife)

Research Statement

My research is focused on terrestrial and aquatic processes that influence the recovery of subarctic lakes impacted by mining pollution. We use a variety of techniques across the disciplines of hydrology, biogeochemistry and limnology to measure fluxes of contaminants (mostly arsenic and antimony) within subarctic watersheds. These types of information are useful so that we can better predict the long-term fate of contaminants in northern environments.  I have 15 years of experience as a northern-based scientist and much of this work has been in collaboration with local communities, government agencies, and universities.  

Current projects

  • Yellowknife Garden Metals Study
  • The biological and chemical recovery of Yellowknife area lakes from 60 years of arsenic pollution
  • Regional soil geochemistry in the Yellowknife area
  • Legacy arsenic pollution in Yellowknife Bay sediments: An assessment of its long-term fate under a changing climate
  • Collaborator with the Water and Ice Research Laboratory (WIRL) at Carleton


Research shows humans, not geology, source of high arsenic levels in Yellowknife - CBC

Study unearths new assessment of arsenic in Yellowknife soil - CABIN RADIO

Significant Contributions

  • Palmer, M.J., Radkovà, A, Jamieson, H.E., Maitland, K., Oliver, J., Falck, H., and Richardson, M.  2021. Mineralogical, geospatial, and statistical methods combined to estimate geochemical background of arsenic in soils for an area impacted by legacy mining pollution. Science of the Total Environment. In Press.
  • Hamilton, P.B., Hutchinson, S.J., Patterson, R.T., Galloway, J.M., Nasser, N.A., Palmer, M.J., Spence, C., Falck, H. 2021.  A diatom based paleolimnological study of Pocket Lake, a small subarctic lake, Northwest Territories Canada. The Holocene. In Press.
  • Pelletier, N., Chételat, J., Palmer, M.J., Vermaire, J.C. 2021. Bog and lake sediment archives reveal a lagged response of subarctic lakes to diminishing atmospheric Hg and Pb deposition. Science of the Total Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145521
  • Palmer, M.J., Chételat, J., Jamieson, H.E., Richardson, M., Amyot, M. Hydrologic control on winter dissolved oxygen mediates arsenic cycling in a small subarctic lake.

    Limnology and Oceanography, 2020

  • Palmer, M.J., Chételat, J., Richardson, M., Jamieson, H.E., Galloway, J.  2019.  Seasonal variation of arsenic and antimony in surface waters of small subarctic lakes impacted by legacy mining pollution near Yellowknife, NT, Canada.  Science of the Total Environment, 684: 326-339.
  • Schuh, C.E., Jamieson, H.E., Palmer, M.J., Martin, A.J., and Blais.  2019.  Controls governing the spatial distribution of arsenic concentrations and solid-phase speciation in a lake impacted by legacy mining pollution.  Science of the Total Environment, 654: 563-575. 
  • Jamieson, H.E., Maitland, K., Oliver, J., Palmer, M.J. 2017.  Regional distribution of arsenic in near-surface soils in the Yellowknife area.  NWT Geological Survey Open File 2017-03. 37p.
  • Kokelj, S.V., Palmer, M.J., Lantz, T.C., Burn, C.R. 2017.  Ground temperatures and permafrost warming from forest to tundra, Tuktoyaktuk coastlands and Anderson Plain, NWT, Canada. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes.
  • Korosi, J.B., Eickmeyer, D.C., Thienpont, J.R., Palmer, M.J., Kimpe, L., Blais, J.M. 2016.  Assessing the contribution of combustion-derived contaminants to a remote subarctic environment from traffic on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road (Northwest Territories, Canada), Science of the Total Environment, 553:96-106.
  • Palmer, M.J., Galloway, J.E., Jamieson, H.E., Patterson, R.T., Falck, H., Kokelj, S.V. 2015.  The concentration of arsenic in Yellowknife area lakes.  NWT Geological Survey Open File 2015-06. 25 p.