Environment

Permafrost Information Hub

Permafrost provides a foundation for northern ecosystems, infrastructure and communities. Permafrost conditions are inextricably linked to climate, so information on permafrost is now increasingly critical for environmental monitoring and research, assessing the effects of climate change and for planning and managing resilient infrastructure and communities. The overall goal of the Permafrost Information Hub is to improve collaboration and information sharing between permafrost researchers and northern stakeholders, conduct northern relevant research projects, and increase capacity for permafrost research.

Trail Valley Creek Research Station

The Trail Valley Creek Research Station is located 50 km north of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Research started at this site in 1991. Trail Valley Creek drains 58 km2 of tundra, with patches of shrubs and boreal forest, and is underlain by ice-rich continuous permafrost. This area is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. Research at Trail Valley Creek is complemented by observations at the Havikpak Creek research watershed, which is located 50 km to the south and is primarily forested. Due to the rapid changes in this environment, there is an urgent need to understand how the changing climate is affecting their shared water resources and ecosystems now and in the future, and to transfer this knowledge to all Canadians. The Trail Valley Creek Research Station is headed by Professor Philip Marsh of Geography and Environment Studies, Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario.

Permafrost Monitoring

Recent climate warming has led to increases in surface air and ground temperatures, which has contributed to regional permafrost degradation, or permafrost thaw, across the Beaufort Delta Region. Thawing permafrost has led to infrastructure challenges across the region; roads and waterways are experiencing slumping along their borders, and buildings built on pilings are starting to tilt. For many years, Dr. Burn has studied changes in permafrost stability and ground temperature at various locations in the western Arctic, with a focus on the outer Mackenzie delta. He has an array of thermistor installations, ranging from Herschel Island, on the Yukon North Slope, to Paulatuk, on the Arctic Ocean coast of the NWT. At each site, ground temperature sensors are deployed in steel pipes, inserted into the ground through the permafrost layers. Ground temperature readings are measured and recorded to develop temperature profiles and observe changes in temperature/depth across these profiles over time.

WARC Air Quality Monitoring

Air is one of our most precious resources, and is vital to life on earth. Maintaining good air quality in the NWT is an important factor in environmental protection and the protection of human health. Sources of air pollution that affect our air quality are both natural, such as emissions from forest fires, and anthropogenic (man-made), such as industrial, vehicular, and home heating emissions. The pollutants monitored at the Inuvik Air Quality Station include carbon monoxide, particulate matter of various sizes, ozone, sulfate, and nitrogen-containing gases.

WARC Carbon Monitoring

ARI has partnered with Dr. Aleck Wang of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to monitor water quality parameters in the East Channel of the Mackenzie River near the town of Inuvik. The goal of this monitoring program is to take time-series measurements of the carbon system in the Mackenzie River, a major Arctic river in the western Canadian Arctic. This work is a first step towards long-term measurements and studies of the impacts of global warming on the carbon system in the Mackenzie River, its estuary, and adjacent coastal waters.

Dempster-ITH Water Quality Monitoring

Retrogressive thaw slumping, due to climate change, is an extreme form of permafrost thaw. This occurs when ice-rich sediment begins to melt, causing the ground to become unstable and collapse. This has significant implications for freshwater systems. There have been a number of studies aimed at better understanding how retrogressive thaw slumping impacts freshwater systems. However, the impact other factors, such as latitude (or climate), seasonal variability, and surficial geology, have on the water quality of freshwater systems in the region is little understood. Improving our understanding of what and how these factors influence the quality of water runoff will help us to better predict how shoreline retrogressive thaw slumping, and construction and development, are affecting freshwater systems. To this end, the overall goal of this study is to examine the effects of seasonal variability and terrain type on the quality of freshwater systems in the Beaufort Delta Region.

Beaufort Sea Coastal Restoration

The overall goal of this project is to examine the effects of thaw slumping on the nearshore waters of Kugmallit Bay and to create a plan to mitigate these effects using indigenous plant species. The latest report is available here.
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