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NSERC funds PermafrostNet as a Strategic Partnership Network!

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will provide more than $5 million over five years to fund PermafrostNet, a Canadian research network of 12 universities, including Laurentian University, and more than 40 partner organizations. “The network focuses on permafrost degradation to determine where, when, and how permafrost thaw is occurring and what are the consequences of this thaw for northern infrastructure and northerners across the Canadian North” says Dr. Pascale Roy-Leveillee of the Laurentian University Permafrost Research Laboratory, one of the Network co-principal investigators.

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

Winter Carbon Losses in Wetland Ecosystems project funded!

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.

Two members of the Laurentian University Permafrost Research Laboratory, Dr. Pascale Roy-Leveillee and Dr. Nathan Basiliko, are part of one of the only nine funded projects announced today.

The project, Winter Carbon Losses in Wetland Ecosystems under Current and Future Climates, was awarded $468,500 over a period of three years. The project is led by Dr. Fereidoun Rezanezhad of University of Waterloo’s Water Institute, and the co-investigators on this award are Pascale Roy-Leveillee and Nathan Basiliko (Laurentian University), William Quinton (Wilfrid Laurier University), Christina Smeaton (Grenfell Campus, Memorial University), Philippe Van Cappellen, Jonathan Price, and Nancy Goucher (University of Waterloo). The Canadian Forest Service Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Natural Resources Canada is a supporting organization through Kara Webster.

Peat cores from several canadian locations, including sites in Yukon, NWT, Manitoba, and Ontario, will be included in the study.

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.

Do you want to join the permafrost team at Laurentian University? We have several openings, please see our list of open funded positions.

Past lab member Emma Ciric sends news from Svalbard

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Emma contemplates glacier near Reindalen

Graduated lab member Emma Ciric continues to work with permafrost as she pursues her academic career. Emma is working on her M.Sc. at the University of Algarve, in Portugal, and is completing her thesis research in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Hodson from UNIS, in Svalbard. She sent us some quick news and pictures: ”I moved to Svalbard in January 2019 and will live here until September 2019 to

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Emma and her classmate Mariana drill to collect permafrost samples in Adventalen

complete my Master’s thesis research on methane escape features in permafrost. I’ve been collecting water samples from around central Spitsbergen and will compare them to geographical features using GIS. ”

Fieldwork near Peawanuck

 

 

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.