The Thermokarst Environments of Northwestern Canada

Presenter:

 

Steven Kokelj – steve_kokelj@gov.nt.ca

 
 

Authors:

 
S.V. Kokelj – Northwest Territories Geological Survey, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
T. Gingras-Hill – Wilfrid Laurier University, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
T. Lantz – University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
P.D. Morse – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
A.C.A. Rudy – Northwest Territories Geological Survey, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
J. van der Sluijs – Northwest Territories Centre for Geomatics, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
A. Wilson – Western Arctic Research Centre, Aurora College, Inuvik, NT, Canada
S.A. Wolfe – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
 
 

Summary:

Thermokarst is the geomorphic manifestation of permafrost thaw. The first systematic aerial inventory and characterization of thaw-sensitive permafrost terrain was initiated for Northwest Territories (NWT) in summer 2020 with the goals of (1) developing standardized permafrost assessment, data recording and management methods, (2) generating a dataset to calibrate or validate permafrost mapping efforts, and (3) documenting the evolution of thermokarst features and permafrost landscapes of the NWT. By the end of September 2020 the project assessed over 10 000 km of flight lines, and compiled 2500 permafrost landform observations and thermokarst terrain attributes. These data are complemented by 15 000 georeferenced oblique photographs that will be organized in a geospatial database. This project provides a systematic method to identify, describe and inventory thermokarst processes affecting Canada’s north, and has stimulated development of a geospatial database and photo-library organized by type, mode, relative magnitude, and nature and intensity of thaw-driven landscape change. Data analysis will contribute to a quantitative understanding of the associations between thermokarst terrain types, and relationships with factors that control the nature and intensity of thaw-driven landscape change.

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