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TitleThermal State of Permafrost in Canada - a snapshot of current conditions and recent trends
AuthorSmith, S LORCID logo; Lewkowicz, A G; Burn, C R
SourceArctic change 2008, conference programme and abstracts/Arctic change 2008, programme et résumés de la conférence; 2008 p. 259
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20080409
MeetingArctic change 2008 conference; Québec; CA; December 9-12, 2008
ProvinceBritish Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-141.0000 -50.0000 90.0000 41.7500
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; permafrost; freezing ground; ground ice; ground temperatures
ProgramEnhancing resilience in a changing climate
Released2008 01 01
AbstractOver the past two to three decades, Canadian researchers have established and maintained a permafrost monitoring network consisting of boreholes in which ground temperatures are measured. This network is a key contribution to the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost. Data collected from the monitoring sites have facilitated documentation of recent trends in permafrost thermal state. These results have contributed signifi cantly to the characterization of changes in permafrost conditions across the circumpolar north, as reported in a number of recent international assessments including the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The International Polar Year (IPY) provides the opportunity for the Canadian permafrost community and the International Permafrost Association to conduct a well designed global and coordinated multinational programme of permafrost observations in order to explore present conditions and their spatial and temporal variability. A collaborative IPY project led by the Geological Survey of Canada, University of Ottawa and Carleton University represents the main Canadian contribution to this larger international project. Key objectives of the project include: (1) continued collection and synthesis of data from all monitoring sites to extend the time-series and improve characterization of the response of permafrost to climate change and variability; (2) establishment of new monitoring sites prior to and during IPY to increase coverage in underrepresented regions; (3) obtain a set of standardized temperature measurements for all Canadian monitoring sites (snapshot).
Funding acquired through the Canadian Government's IPY program along with additional support acquired by the project investigators and collaborators has facilitated the establishment of over 50 new monitoring sites over the last three years. New sites include: seven sites in the Baffi n region of Nunavut established in collaboration with communities; collaboration with Parks Canada to instrument sites in northern Manitoba; increased coverage in the western Arctic including the Yukon Territory. Initial thermal data have been acquired from a number of these new sites providing information on permafrost conditions in areas for which little recent information was available. Data from these sites and the existing long-term sites have been utilized to produce a preliminary snapshot of permafrost conditions during the fi rst portion of the Polar Year providing an improved baseline against which change can be measured.
The extension of existing time series and associated analyses indicates that there is generally an ongoing increase in shallow permafrost temperatures across the Canadian north. The magnitude of rate of increase however varies regionally. Smaller increases for example are observed in ice-rich terrain in the southern portion of the permafrost region where ground temperatures are approaching 0°C. In addition, the role of local factors such as variations in snow cover is being investigated to improve understanding of permafrost-climate relationships and the response of permafrost to climate change and variability.

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