Permafrost underlies more than one-third of the Canadian land surface and nearly all of it will experience thaw during the 21st century. The resulting disruption to natural and human systems will influence the lives of northerners and access to natural resources.
The network research will focus on 5 themes: 1) characterization of permafrost, to fill important gaps in our knowledge of Canadian permafrost extent and characteristics (11 students); 2) monitoring, to ensure we have the means to detect and quantify change in permafrost conditions (8 students); 3) prediction, to improve simulations of changing permafrost and integration with Global Climate Models, and to insure stakeholders can use the model outputs (8 students); 4) hazards, to understand what impacts the observed and predicted permafrost degradation can have on infrastructure, environmental resources, ecosystems and health (9 students); 5) adaptation to permafrost degradation, to support northerners as they prepare for and deal with permafrost thaw and its consequences (9 students).
“The network has the research capacity that no single group or agency can provide and can transform knowledge and practice on a national scale to position Canada as a leader in permafrost research” Indicates Dr. Stephan Gruber, the PermafrostNet Lead, who is professor and Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Impacts/Adaptation in Northern Canada at Carleton University.
The objective of the highly competitive NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks is to increase research and training in targeted areas, contributing to a better quality of life in Canada. Only two networks were funded this year across Canada
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, has announced the recipient projects of the highly competitive “Advancing Climate Change Science in Canada” initiative.
Project description: High latitude cold regions, including Arctic and northern areas of Canada, are warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with the greatest warming occurring during the winter. Canada’s temperate to subarctic wetlands and permafrost peatlands hold large stores of carbon which are susceptible to loss under future climate warming scenarios. Therefore, understanding the factors which regulate the processes controlling greenhouse gas emissions during the non-growing season is critical for predicting the fate of these vulnerable carbon stocks and for creating climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. With a focus on these critical ecosystems, the project brings together Canadian leaders from multiple disciplines from across universities with federal government scientists and policy makers to determine the drivers of non-growing season carbon cycling, develop process-based environmental models, and estimate CO2 emissions. In doing so, the project will address the knowledge gaps on emissions to provide data and tools to evaluate the impact of winter warming mitigation in controlling carbon losses from pan-Canadian wetland ecosystems.
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.
An icy permafrost core from the interface between organics and mineral sediment beneath a palsa
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.
Adam loves field work… and helicopters
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?)