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TitlePaleoclimatological assessment of the central Northwest Territories and implications for the long-term viability of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter ice road: a project overview
AuthorPatterson, R T; Clark, I A; Crann, C; Falck, H; Galloway, J M; Gammon, P R; Griffith, F; Macumber, A L; Muise, P; Mullan, D J; Pisaric, M F J; Roe, H M; Sulphur, K C; Swindles, G T; Upiter, L M; Vermaire, J C
SourceNorthwest Territories Geoscience Office, Yellowknife Geoscience Forum Abstracts Volume 2013, 2013 p. 1,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20130443
Meeting41st Annual Yellowknife Geoscience Forum; Yellowknife; CA; November 19-21, 2013
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceNorthwest Territories
NTS76D; 85I; 85P
AreaTibbitt Lake; Contwoyto Lake
Lat/Long WENS-114.0000 -109.0000 65.0000 62.0000
Subjectspaleontology; environmental geology; paleoclimates; Holocene; terrain sensitivity; climate change; Cenozoic; Quaternary
Programenvironmental impacts and adaptation in the northern environment, Environmental Geoscience
LinksOnline - En ligne
AbstractOur multi-disciplinary research on a series of cores collected along, and adjacent to, the length of the TCWR was mandated to provide high-resolution information on climate variability and its affects on aquatic and terrestrial environments in the central NWT and NU. Our methodology has permitted us to recognize cycles and trends that have impacted climate change at annual to centennial scales through not only the mandated past 3500 years, but for much of the Holocene. In addition to analyzing the available instrumental record that exists from 1942 onward for the region, additional climate sensitive proxies utilized included dendrochronology (annual resolution), grain-size analysis (subdecadal resolution), chironomids (decadal resolution), isotopic analysis (decadal oscillation), diatoms (decadal resolution), palynology (decadal resolution), arcellaceans (decadal resolution). Through use of time series analysis techniques on our multi-proxy data set we have been able to determine that well-known teleconnections influenced by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and solar cycles, all influenced climate variability in this region. Their influence has been cyclic and has followed predictable patterns. The overarching influence has been solar cycles of varying period. These seem to have influenced the phase and magnitude of Pacific Decadal Oscillations, which in turn influence the penetration of ENSO events into the north. Solar peaks generally result in warmer conditions, particularly at northerly latitudes. In the past positive PDO¿s have been associated with warmer winters and negative PDO¿s cooler winter conditions. For example, following the great PDO regime shift of 1976-77 there was a significant step-wise increase in winter temperatures in the NWT. El Niño events coupled with PDO+ events generally result in particularly warm winters.
With the recent shift to PDO- conditions and a projection of very weak solar activity in the next decades winter conditions should be colder than in recent years resulting in conditions ideal for construction of ice roads. Possibly offsetting this cooling trend is the potential impact of increased atmospheric CO2 on regional climate. An ensemble of global circulation models using the statistical down-scaling approach have been developed by members of our team, which suggest that the observed increased CO2 levels may have overarching implications for the long-term viability of the TCWR. Our results will be of interest to stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, non-government organizations, and First Nations groups) as they strive to strategically manage northern ecosystem and to inform policy makers and planners of potential climatic conditions that may prevail in the coming decades.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
We studied biotic, physical, and chemical proxies of Holocene environmental change preserved in sediments of lakes located along the latitudinal gradient of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, the sole overland route servicing mines in the mineral-rich Slave Geological Province. Our integration of high-resolution analyses of dendrochronology, sedimentary particle size, chironomids, isotopes, diatoms, palynology, and arcellaceans has permitted recognition of cycles and trends that have impacted climate change at annual to centennial-scales for much of past 9000 years. With time series analysis on our multi-proxy dataset we determine that well-known teleconnections influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and solar cycles have impacted climate variability in the central Northwest Territories. Solar cycles appear to have influenced the phase and magnitude of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which in turn influence the penetration of ENSO events. Solar peaks generally resulted in warmer conditions, particular in northern latitudes.