At the University of Ottawa, Antoni Lewkowicz and his graduate students are undertaking permafrost research in the mountains of northwest Canada (supported by the Yukon Geological Survey, YGS and the Geological Survey of Canada, GSC as well as NSERC) and on Ellesmere Island (with PCSP support).
One project is to test the BTS method to map permafrost probability in extreme northwestern British Columbia (Haines Road) and in the southwest Yukon (Ruby Range), where one of the steepest precipitation gradients in Canada occurs. Preliminary results suggest that the BTS method can be applied successfully and that the lower limits of permafrost rise by about 200 m between the two sites. A second project is focused on the effects of forest fire on landsliding over permafrost in the area around Dawson (Yukon) where numerous fires occurred in 2004. Shallow landslides developed immediately following the fires but more were predicted for 2005 and indeed occurred. A third project examined thermokarst development in ice-rich terrain within a mid-elevation valley near Whitehorse (Yukon). Degradation has been considerable in the past 50 years but it appears that this is only the latest event during the late-Holocene in formation and degradation of permafrost in the area. In an adjacent valley, the contemporary dynamics of a palsa field that is influenced by drainage changes is being monitored.
Numerous new detachment failures occurred on the Fosheim Peninsula (Ellesmere Island) as a result of the warm and sunny conditions in August 2005. Frost tubes installed by the GSC suggest that the summer of 2005 was one of the warmest in the last 10-15 years. Some detachment failures were observed to develop in one or two hours, while others continued to enlarge for several days.
Current research activities at the University of Alberta Geotechnical Centre focused on the micro structural processes during the freezing and thawing of fine- and coarsegrained soils (Lukas Arenson, Dave Sego). Initially, the freezing process was observed under different temperature boundary conditions and pore water salinities. Animations of one-dimensional freezing tests can be downloaded from: http://www.engineering.ualberta.ca/ geotechnical/frozenSoils.cfm. Subsequent investigations are focused on ice lens formations, frozen fringe development and frost heave within frost susceptible fine grained samples.
Permafrost research at the University of Calgary is concentrated in the Departments of Civil Engineering, Geology & Geophysics and Geography. Jocelyn Grozic and her team have developed a laboratory for modelling the properties of gas hydrates including being able to create and decompose them under controlled conditions. Brian Moorman’s team is currently focusing on the development of new geophysical techniques for imaging permafrost and glacier hydrology, studying the interaction between shallow sea water, floating and bottom fast ice and sediment deposition and the impact on the thermal regime and structure of permafrost in outer the Mackenzie Delta. One of Masaki Hayashi’s foci is cold region hydrology investigations including studying water and energy cycles in the discontinuous permafrost region, hydraulic properties of peat, and snowmelt infiltration. With the increase in hydrocarbon exploration and development in the Mackenzie Delta, the CREWES group has been working on seismic imaging in permafrost zones. Increased interest in manned exploration of Mars has lead to research by a team lead by Rob Stewart to investigate the best way to explore for subsurface ice on Mars using shallow geophysical methods. This is being undertaken by using Mars analogues in the permafrost areas of northern Canada.
Benoit Beauchamp was recently appointed as the director of Arctic Institute of North America (University of Calgary).
An on-going study of massive ground ice in coarsegrained deposits and its implications for granular resource inventories is being conducted in the Mackenzie Delta and Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands by Wayne Pollard and researchers from McGill University in collaboration with Robert Gowan, Canadian Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Supported by PERD and DIAND, this study addresses questions about the nature, origin, distribution, and significance of massive ground ice in deposits identified as potential sand and gravel borrow sites. In 2004-05 fieldwork focused on capacitive coupled resistivity surveys at sites including the Ya-Ya Esker borrow site (Richard’s Island), the Tuktoyaktuk local granular sites (E of Tuktoyaktuk Harbour), and the massive ice at Peninsula Point (SW of Tuktoyaktuk). This research formed the basis of an MSc thesis by Greg De Pascale (McGill University).
The McGill team lead by W. Pollard is also involved in a project concerned with the sensitivity and rates of erosion of ice-rich coasts in the southern Beaufort Sea. This project is funded by NSERC, NRCan and ARCTICNET and is part of the Arctic Coastal Dynamics project. This study involves a combination of geophysical surveys, shallow coring, mapping of coastal sections, remote sensing and modelling. Soil organic carbon content measurement and carbon isotope analyses are used to assess potential climate change feedbacks (Nicole Couture, Hugues Lantuit, Greg De Pascale, Tim Haltigin, and M.D. Azhural Hoque).
Permafrost research at Carleton University has been rejuvenated through the NSERC Northern Chair Program in Permafrost (Chris Burn) in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Currently, eleven graduate students in physical geography are working in this area, and two new faculty members were appointed in association with Chair activities: Sean Carey, with expertise in hydrology, and Elyn Humphries, with interests in surface energy and mass fluxes. Sivan Parameswaran, who has a long-term interest in the electrophysics of freezing soil is an adjunct member of the Department. A large proportion of the research conducted under the Chair program has been in the Mackenzie delta area and along Canada’s western Arctic coast. Some of this is a contribution to the IPA’s GTN-P IPY project, providing temperature profiles in permafrost to depths of 50 m at Garry Island, Illisarvik, and Paulatuk (Northwest Territories), and Herschel Island, Old Crow, Mayo and near Whitehorse (Yukon). This lead to several papers on ground ice conditions in the Mackenzie delta area (with our former Postdoctoral Fellow Steve Kokelj), and on the thermal regime of tundra and boreal lakes. The program is in collaboration with J.R. Mackay. The September 2005 issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences published a joint publication summarizing over 50 years of observations on some of the best developed ventifacts in Canada, found near Paulatuk. Joint investigations continue at Garry Island and Illisarvik each year on the development of ice-wedge polygons, the response of permafrost to climate change, especially changes in snow conditions, and the behaviour of sub-permafrost pore water during permafrost aggradation.
At Carleton University, the current graduate-student projects in permafrost are largely conducted in partnership with northern agencies, particularly the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Yukon Department of Environment, and the Ekati diamond mine. Kumari Karunaratne (PhD) is working on permafrost conditions in the Slave Province, north of Yellowknife, with an interest in permafrost aggradation into saturated mine tailings. Peter Morse (PhD) is examining snow depth variation in the outer Mackenzie delta and its association with changes in permafrost conditions. Mike Palmer (MSc) has completed fieldwork on factors controlling changes in ground temperature across tree line near the western Arctic coast. Julian Kanigan (MSc) and Thai Nguyen (MSc) expect to work next summer on permafrost conditions in the Mackenzie delta, particularly recent response to climate warming and the spatial distribution of unfrozen ground within the delta. Pascale Roy-Léveillée (MSc) is studying the spatial distribution of snow in the Ogilvie Mountains, and its relationship with plant distributions and permafrost. Celina Ziegler (MSc) has started a project on the use of isotopes for hydrograph separation in a small drainage basin near Whitehorse.
The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), with support from the Government of Canada’s (GoC) Northern Energy Development (NED) Program, has initiated a detailed inventory of landslides in the Mackenzie Valley between Inuvik and Tulita (Réjean Couture, Simon Riopel). This new study initiative contributes to providing geoscience information for hydrocarbon exploration and development in the Beaufort Sea, Mackenzie River Delta, and Mackenzie Valley. To date, over 1800 landslides and other natural terrain hazard features (e.g. karst sink holes, rock glaciers) were mapped in the study area and integrated into a GIS platform. At present, about 40% of the study area was mapped using over 650 air photos acquired in 2004. The completion of the landslide mapping is expected by the end of 2006.
As part of the NED Program, the GSC has also initiated a geotechnical project to investigate slope failure mechanisms associated with landslides in the Mackenzie Valley (Baolin Wang, Susan Nichol, Xueqing Su). The objective of this project is to improve understanding of factors causing slope failure and landslide processes. Initial site reconnaissance and preliminary site investigations have been conducted along the northern half of the Mackenzie Valley. More focused drilling, sampling and testing activities are planned.
Field investigations continued in 2005 with investigations of coastal permafrost in the vicinity of the Mackenzie Delta (Steve Solomon, Gavin Manson). Thermistor cables were installed in 10 m boreholes along an onshoreoffshore transect. Ground penetrating radar (B. Moorman and C. Stevens, University of Calgary) and electrical resistivity (W. Pollard and G. De Pascale) surveys revealed dramatic changes in the thickness and extent of ice-bonded sediments. GPR surveys were also used to validate synthetic aperture radar interpretations of the extent of bottomfast ice. Summer surveys included shallow boreholes to investigate sediment stratigraphy and pore water geochemistry in areas of extensive dead vegetation. One logger provided a unique record of nearshore temperatures from April to August. Surveys were also undertaken in Tuktoyaktuk to monitor coastal erosion and in the Pingo Canadian Landmark to ascertain the elevation of Ibyuk Pingo.
J.D. Mollard and Associates located and terrain mapped three alternative road routes, all originating in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, with three destinations in northern Manitoba. All routings traverse the continuous and widespread continuous permafrost zones.
EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. (EBA) was retained to support Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Reducing Canada’s Vulnerability to Climate Change Program within a study on «Sensitivity to Climate Change in Northwest Territories Communities». Analyses were undertaken to estimate the approximate timeframes when remediation/ adaptation of infrastructure might be required, and the associated approximate costs. The building foundations in communities in the Inuvik region are, as a group, the most sensitive to climate change impacts. This area is characterized by continuous, but warm permafrost. The small communities in the southern Northwest Territories generally exhibit relatively low sensitivity because permafrost is generally sporadically present in this area.
A detail permafrost map at a scale of 1:10,000 of Imperial Oil’s TAGLU site located on Richards Island in the Mackenzie Delta was compiled for the Mackenzie Gas Project by V. Roujanski of EBA Engineering based on available geological, geotechnical and geophysical field data (gathered over a period of 30 years by EBA, R.M. HARDY, GSC and IORL), ground temperature monitoring and aerial photography interpretation. The compiled permafrost map synthesizes the collected data and shows the interpreted spatial distribution of mean annual ground temperatures, lithology, ground ice content, surficial geology and permafrost-related landforms.
In March 2005, Don Hayley, Principal Engineer and Senior Vice President of EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd, member of the Canadian National Committee for the IPA and member of the IPA Executive Committee, was awarded the Julian C. Smith Medal by the Engineering Institute of Canada. The award, the second most senior award of the Institute which represents all the learned engineering societies in Canada, recognized Don’s contributions to the «development of Canada’s North». For further details and the full citation of the award, see: www.eicici. ca/english/tour/haf2.
The application and environmental impact studies for the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project were filed in October 2004 triggering the regulatory review process. The project will involve the development of three onshore natural gas fields in the Mackenzie Delta, and the transport of natural gas and natural gas liquids via buried pipelines south through the continuous and discontinuous permafrost regions of the Mackenzie valley to NW Alberta. Many permafrost scientists and engineers, from government, universities and the private sector, were actively involved this last year either in the technical aspects of the project investigations and design, or its Environmental Assessment review under a Joint Review Panel (JRP). For further information, see: www.ngps.nt.ca.
In September 2005, the Government of Canada announced that it will provide $150 million in new funding over six years to support innovative, interdisciplinary research for the International Polar Year (IPY). The targeted science and research program will focus on two of Canada’s most important challenges for its northern regions: climate change impacts and adaptation, and the health and well-being of northern communities. Funds will be allocated, through a competitive, peer-review process, to academic, government and private sector researchers. For additional information on IPY in Canada, see: www.ipyapi. ca and www.ualberta.ca/~ipy (Canadian Secretariat).
As part of the APEGGA annual conference, a two-day workshop «Permafrost Geophysics: A Workshop on Hydrocarbon Exploration in the Arctic» brought together in April 2005 over 150 geoscientists interested in exploration in permafrost areas. Much of the workshop was dedicated to improving our abilities at imaging the hydrocarbon structures in permafrost regions, however shallow geophysics for geotechnical and environmental applications was also discussed. The workshop received such an overwhelming response, a CD of the presentations and other material is currently being compiled for release in 2006.
The University of British Columbia will host on February 17, 2006 a celebration and colloquium to mark the legacy and continuing achievements of J. Ross Mackay in commemoration of his 90th birthday. Six short lectures, chosen to represent various aspects of J. Ross Mackay’s career, will be delivered during the day, and other contributions will be presented in a poster session. There will be a dinner following the colloquium. The celebration is sponsored by the Department of Geography at UBC, the NSERC Northern Chair in Permafrost in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and the Canadian National Committee for the IPA. All are invited to attend and participate in this celebration, but are advised to register before February 1, 2006. Full details are available at www.geog.ubc.ca/mackay2006.
The CNC-IPA is co-sponsoring a permafrost session at the upcoming Geological Association of Canada annual meeting scheduled for May 2007 in Yellowknife, NWT. This conference represents an opportunity for the Canadian permafrost community to get together prior to the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost in Fairbanks. For further information, see: www. nwtgeoscience.ca/gac_mac.
The semi-annual Coastal Zone Canada conference will be held in Tuktoyaktuk in August 2006. The venue will focus coastal investigators and managers on Arctic issues. A session on Arctic coastal processes and infrastructures is being planned along with a field trip to the Tuktoyaktuk area. For further information, see: www.czc06.ca
Margo Burgess (firstname.lastname@example.org)