Dempster-ITH Water Quality Monitoring

Main Project Contact:
Erika Hille

Project Start Date:
April 2017

Project End Date:

Project Name:
Investing the quality of water runoff from different terrain types found along the Dempster-ITH corridor

ARI Team:
Edwin Amos
Elye Clarkson

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.



  1. Examine the water quality of streams located along the Dempster and Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highways, in order to examine what and how certain factors (e.g., latitude/climate, surficial geology, retrogressive thaw slumping) control the water quality of freshwater systems.

  2. Investigate how the water quality of freshwater systems in the study area vary seasonally by sampling streams at different points during the year.

The streams used in this study are located in catchments that vary by surficial geology (i.e., previously glaciated, previously unglaciated), the presence or absence of a disturbance, and latitude.


Water sample collections will occur once a month from May (spring snowmelt) to October (freeze-up), and analyzed. When possible, stream velocity will take place to calculate discharge. With this data, we can calculate the amount of sediment, major ions, nutrients, and carbon that is be transported at each site. Community presentations will take throughout the Beaufort Delta region.


Water samples, Stream velocity measurements May 2018 - Oct 2018 (monhtly)
Presentation at ARI Summer Speak Series August 2018
School Visits September 2018 - December 2018
Community Consultations Sepember 2018 - December 2018


External Partners:
Steve Kokelj, Northwest Territories Geological Survey
Ashley Rudy, Wilfrid Laurier University

Arctic, Freshwater, Streams, Stream Flow, Water Quality, Permafrost, Slumping, Physical Sciences, Climate Change, Hydrology