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Adam joined Maara Packalen and Jim McLaughlin from the OMNR-F to conducted field work from August 18th to 27th near Peawanuck, Ontario, in the traditional territory of Winisk First Nation.
Before data collection, Adam, Jim, Maara, and other researchers from OMNRF participated in a 4 day outreach event (15th to 18th) to meet new community members, and reinforce existing relationships. The group of researchers camped at Hawley lake with approximately 30 community members, including youth and elders, and conducted demonstrations and workshops. Adam got to dig a big pit with the kids to show them what permafrost is and where it is found, which was a big hit because kids enjoy playing in the mud, and so do permafrost researchers! Adam and Jessica, an OMNRF intern, had a chance to discuss opportunities for youth in science and research. This event was organized by Sam hunter, the community environmental steward.
After the camping trip, field work began to the east of Peawanuck, where Adam collected cores of active layer peat, permafrost, and thermokarst from palsas and peat plateaus. One of the cores that had over 50 cm of pure ice! He also installed stakes fitted with small temperature data loggers to monitor snow pack development through the winter, and temperature sensors into the top of permafrost to report on the relationship between snow pack and palsa degradation.
Though tired at the end of the trip, Adam, Jim, and Maara were happy with the work accomplished and sad to leave Peawanuck until next year.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.