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Up North On Climate Conference, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Pascale and Adam attended the Up North on Climate Conference in Thunder Bay, April 24 to 26. They presented as part of a panel on peat and permafrost along with Nathan Basiliko from Laurentian University, Maara Packalen, and Jim McLaughlin from OMNRF.

The conference was a concluding event to the work conducted by David Pearson and his team in collaboration with MIRARCO‘s Climate Change Division and northern Ontario communities to improve preparedness for the consequences of a changing climate.  The conference was well attended, with representatives from more than 50 northern Ontario First Nation communities (out of 88 communities in the north of Ontario), as well as members of provincial and territorial governments and university-based researchers.


Elders panel at Up North on Climate Conference in Thunder Bay, April 2018. From left to right: Josephine BigGeorge, Mike Hunter, Bellamie Bighead (translator), Joel Bighead, Wilfred Wesley, and David Pearson.



Adam wins a Weston WCS-Canada fellowship in northern conservation

Sam Hunter and Adam Kirkwood extract a permafrost cores from a palsa in Polar Bear Park

Sam Hunter and Adam Kirkwood extract a permafrost cores from a palsa in Polar Bear Park, Ontario.

Adam Kirkwood won a Weston Wildlife Conservation Society-Canada Fellowship for his M.Sc. project on The significance and vulnerability of carbon and mercury stores frozen in palsa mires of the Ontario Far North. He will be working on cores extracted from intact, partially degraded, and degraded palsas extending along a latitudinal gradient between Peawanuck and Attawapiskat. Adam will 1) characterize the microbial community in the cores with eDNA (targeting methanogens, SRB and Hg methylation genes with sequencing and qPCR); 2) incubate the samples to assess greenhouse gas production potential; and 3) analyzed them for total mercury and methyl mercury content.

This project is a collaboration with researchers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, who have equipped the palsa gradient with climate stations, permafrost monitoring stations, and flux towers, and with the BIOTRON Institute for Experimental Climate Change Research at Western University, and the Vale Living with Lakes Center at Laurentian University.

Field work on a palsa

Adam Kirkwood, Mark Crofts, and Benoit Hamel take field notes and package a permafrost core before leaving a site.

Adam’s project directly addresses concerns and priorities identified by the Muskegowuk Council, which has given its support to the project, and we look forward to sharing information with Muskegowuk communities. A poster in Cree and English (Greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost in Polar Bear Provincial Park – ᑲᑎᑭᑌᐠ ᐱᑐᐡ ᑲᑎᑭᐠ ᐁ ᐃᔑ ᑭᔑᑲᐠ) with information on some aspects of this project was presented earlier this year at the Muskegowuk Climate Summit.

Pascale presented at the 2018 Yellowknife Geoscience Forum


Pascale (and baby Florent!) participated in the 2018 Yellowknife Geoscience Forum, which had a very good turn out of permafrost scientists!

Pascale presented a poster with some data and thought son the Evolution of incipient lowland thermokarst features in the Blackstone River valley, Yukon (abstract on p. 108 of the Forum’s book of abstracts).





Pascale also presented a brief overview of the thermal monitoring and geomorphological mapping work carried by Maare Packalen, Jim McLaughlin, and Zlatka Pironkova in Ontario Far North. See Permafrost monitoring in the Hudson Bay Lowlands: preliminary results from the Ontario Far North in the Forum’s book of abstracts, p. 60.



The stirring committee of the new Canadian Permafrost Association used the opportunity to have a fruitful meeting in person. The new association should be up and running this summer! Kumari Karunaratne and Toni Lewkowicz gave a presentation to update the community and gather input regarding the mission statement, logo, etc. See The formation of a Canadian permafrost association in the abstract book of the Forum, p. 44.

Goodman School of Mines invests in permafrost studies at Laurentian University

The  Goodman School of Mines announced via its executive director, Dr. Bruce Jago, that it will be making a significant investment in a new permafrost laboratory and permafrost science training at Laurentian University over a period of three years. This training aims to give students the opportunity to gain practical field-based and laboratory-based experience in permafrost science, and to graduate with cutting-edge, concrete, and marketable field and laboratory experience in permafrost assessment and monitoring.

Left to right: Dr. Elizabeth Dawes (Dean, Faculty of Arts), Nathan Romahn (student), Dr. Pascale Roy-Léveillée (Assistant Professor of geography) Krystal Siebert (student), and Dr. Bruce Jago (Executive director, Goodman School of Mines).

Laurentian University students are already directly benefiting from this support. Emma Ciric will be traveling to central Yukon this summer to investigate controls on rates of permafrost degradation in the Blackstone Uplands as part of her undergraduate thesis in Geography. Nathan Roman will be joining her for his ADVL internship, to gain practical experience working as a technician and logistics coordinator for research and monitoring activities in remote areas. Krystal Siebert is working on a GIS-based project related to permafrost degradation and organic carbon. At least two other students are scheduled to begin graduate and undergraduate theses in 2017, and we are hoping several other students will be joining our team in the coming year.

Laurentian University, with its long-standing relationship with the mining industry and its proximity to the Hudson Bay Lowlands, is in a strategic position to respond to the increasing demand for skilled permafrost technicians, consultants, and scientists resulting from increased infrastructure development in the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic.  In these regions, the ice content and temperature of underlying permafrost can be major concerns for infrastructure development, waste disposal, water contamination risk assessment, environmental monitoring, and site recovery.

The new permafrost laboratory, a new 4th year permafrost course (GEOG4256), directed studies on permafrost issues, and related undergraduate thesis projects will be housed in the School of Northern and Community Studies, within the Faculty of Arts. Graduate thesis projects will take place within the MSc Biology and the PhD Boreal Ecology programs. These courses and projects will be supervised by Dr. Pascale Roy-Léveillée, a new Laurentian University faculty member specialized in permafrost science who was appointed as assistant professor of Geography in January 2015, was appointed as adjunct professor in Biology in April 2015, and became a member of the Laurentian University Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit in April 2016. Dr. Roy-Léveillée is an active member of the Canadian Metis Federation and is part of a diverse and dynamic group of indigenous faculty members at Laurentian University and the University of Sudbury.

Pascale Joins the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit

LivingwLakes (2)

Pascale (with official hat!) and John Gunn, Director of the Vale Living with Lakes Centre and founding member of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit

Pascale became a member of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit at Laurentian University in March 2016. She received the infamous co-op ball cap at the Annual General Meeting, on April 12th, 2016, at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre.

The Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit was founded in 1989 as a partnership between Laurentian University and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) and the  Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to help address applied environmental research questions related to environmental restoration and management. Its partners include researchers from several universities, industry, and the City of Sudbury.

Pascale looks forward to new collaborations with members of the Co-op to develop research projects focused on interactions between permafrost and freshwater in Ontario’s North. Discussions are on-going regarding the development of projects focused on permafrost conditions and vulnerability in the Hudson Bay Lowlands.