Northern communities, generally located on permafrost landscapes in coastal environments, are subjected to harsh climates, with strong seasonal contrasts in temperature, wind and
precipitation. These climate cycles also drive seasonal changes in the landscape, creating instability and hazards. For example, rapid snowmelt on frozen ground may cause flooding; saturated, non-frozen ground may fail on moderate to steep slopes
causing landslides; thawing of ice-rich permafrost results in ground subsidence; and sea-ice free coasts permit increased wave energy, producing coastal flooding and shoreline migration. Future climate scenarios predict changes in climate variables
that may increase landscape instability and hazard risk. Effective planning and adaptation strategies require improved understanding of landscape sensitivity to predict future impacts under various climate-change scenarios.
Assessment of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Options in Nunavut Communities is a project co-managed by the Government of Nunavut (GN) and Natural Resources Canada, in collaboration with Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Canadian
Institute of Planners, and the Canada Nunavut Geoscience Office. It strives to integrate traditional knowledge, community decision makers, and scientific research on climate change impacts to improve community planning capacity and develop a Nunavut
Adaptation Plan. It builds on the Adaptation Action in Arctic Communities workshop (Iqaluit, December 2006), and initially field activities are focused in Clyde River, Iqaluit and Hall Beach.
The focus of this presentation is the assessment
of landscape hazards. This involves the categorization of landscape conditions representing a risk, determining how these might change in the future (particularly though not exclusively through climate change), and assessing the capacity of the
community to adapt to these changing conditions. Clyde River (Kangiktugaapik - meaning nice little inlet), situated on eastern Baffin Island, Nunavut, is used as a case study.
A hazard classification map of Clyde River, incorporating both
the level of exposure (risk) to landscape hazards and the adaptive capacity of the community, is being constructed. The map will be a multilayer GIS, displaying information on various themes. Surficial geology (e.g., bedrock, colluvium, raised
marine sediment, moraines) is one theme layer. Other layers will include location and characteristics of infrastructure, culturally significant areas, proposed developments, sensitive terrain (e.g., Holocene marine sediments, areas of high ice
content), periglacial features and historical landscape changes (e.g., slope retreat, coastline migration). Data will be extracted from field observations, discussions with community members, Quickbird satellite imagery, and aerial photographs of
different scale and age. Through this interactive map, the link between geology, surficial material and landscape stability can be investigated; it should permit the identification of areas most sensitive to surface disruption that represent
potential future hazards. Integration of the final GIS with community technological and social adaptive strategies will help guide future community planning and adaptation policies.