Adam and Pascale present at EUCOP 2018 in Chamonix

EUCOP 2018 took place in beautiful Chamonix, and was a success with more than 400 conference attendees from 29 different countries. (During the conference, these attendees consumed 2000 pastries per day, 60 L of red wine, 30 L or white wine, and 2000 beers. Can you tell we were in France?)

Pascale gave the opening talk for the thermokarst lake session on Thursday the 28th. She presented a discussion of the influence of vegetation structure on the geomorphic evolution of thermokarst lakes in the forest tundra transition.

Adam presents to a full room a EUCOP, it was difficult to get a photo!

Adam attended the PYRN (Permafrost Young Researchers Network) workshops along with approximately 170 young researchers from June 22nd to 24th. He presented his undergraduate thesis research on greenhouse gas production production potential from degrading palsa fields of the Hudson Bay Lowlands  in the session on permafrost peatlands, on Tuesday the 26th. The room was overflowing, with people sitting on the floor and filling the hallway in front of the door.

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.

Permafrost degradation occurs beneath shallower water than expected in northern Yukon

Methane escapes from a hole drilled through lake bottom sediment  (photo credit: Z. Braul)

A paper published by Roy-Leveillee and Burn (2017)  in the Journal of Geophysical Research- Earth Surface  reports observations of permafrost degradation and talik development beneath water depths less than 15% of the maximum ice thickness in lakes of Old Crow Flats, northern Yukon.  This is surprising as,  in the near-shore zones of thermokarst lakes, it is generally assumed that permafrost is sustained where water depth is less than 60% of the local maximum ice thickness.




Jet-drilling to delineate the talik permafrost boundary  (Photo credit: P. Roy-Léveillée)

The paper investigates controls on permafrost degradation and reveals that sub-lake permafrost is sensitive to on-ice snow distribution where the water column freezes through. It shows the importance of the thermal offset where conditions are marginal for talik initiation and highlights the role of interannual variability for prompt talik initiation near receding shores.

These findings improve understanding of permafrost degradation beneath shallow water, a topic of  particular concern in the context of climatic warming as methane release from thaw lakes is concentrated near receding lake margins and is most active at the thaw front beneath the lake bottom.

Presentation on carbon input from lakeshore erosion at the 11th International Conference on Permafrost in Potsdam, Germany

Group photo for the 11th ICOP, in July 2016 (Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Jan Pauls)

Group photo for the 11th ICOP, in July 2016 (Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Jan Pauls)



The eleventh International Conference on Permafrost was held from June 20th to 24th in Potsdam, Germany. The conference was well attended with nearly 800 permafrost scientists and engineers, including many young permafrost researchers.






Eroding bank of a thermokarst lake in Old Crow Flats, Yk.

Eroding bank of a thermokarst lake in Old Crow Flats, Yk.

Pascale presented on the rates of organic carbon input in thermokarst lakes due to the erosion of shorelines in a tundra area of Old Crow Flats.This topic will be addressed in an up-coming paper co-authored with Elyn Humphreys, Zoe Braul, and Chris Burn. Preliminary results indicate that, in the area examined, approximately 0.22 teragrams of organic carbon fall in thermokarst lakes every year due to the erosion of the shorelines, including approximately 0.15 teragrams of organic carbon that was previously stored in permafrost.

A first video!

Krystal and Pascale submitted a FrostByte video to introduce the research that Pascale will be presenting in Potsdam at the International Conference on Permafrost, June 20 to 24 2016.