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.
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.
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.
Welcome to our newest and smallest lab member, Florent Léveillée-Renard, born on June 26th, 2017. Florent went on his first field trip to the Yukon with Pascale this summer, at the age of 2 months. He was great help while visiting field sites along the Dempster highway.
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.