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.
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
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. ”
Some of the people who attended the Permafrost Research Network meeting in Whitehorse
Pascale (and Florent) travelled from Churchill to Whitehorse on October 12-14 to participate in the writing of a Strategic Network Grant application focused on permafrost.
Permafrost researchers from across the country are joining efforts with government, community, and industry partners to propose a network that will align permafrost research with decision-making, help fill geographical knowledge gaps in the Canadian North, train the next generation of experts, and position Canada as a leader in permafrost science.
The meeting was a dynamic and productive event, where new connections were made and existing ones solidified, and where good progress was made towards a network of fruitful collaborations reaching for common goals. All in all an exciting week-end!