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TitleEnvironmental atlas of the Beaufort coastlands
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorPelletier, B R (ed.); Medioli, B E (ed.)
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Open File 7619, 2014, 243 sheets, Open Access logo Open Access
LinksOttawa Citizen article
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Documentopen file
MapsPublication contains 27 maps
Map Info.environmental, air flow, 1:7,500,000
Map Info.botanical, wetlands, 1:4,000,000
Map Info.geological, permafrost
Map Info.geological, methane gas
Map Info.geological, sediment dispersal, 1:3,000,000
Map Info.biological, mammal seasonal movement, 1:6,000,000
Map Info.biological, mammal seasonal movement, 1:4,000,000
Map Info.biological, important coastline fisheries, 1:4,000,000
Map Info.biological, fish species and migration, 1:2,000,000
Map Info.biological, bird migration routes, 1:4,000,000
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedThis publication supercedes Environmental Atlas of the Beaufort Coastlands
File formatpdf
ProvinceYukon; Northern offshore region; Northwest Territories; British Columbia; Alberta; Nunavut
NTS66; 67; 68; 69; 76; 77; 78; 79; 86; 87; 88; 89; 96; 97; 98; 99; 73M; 74D; 74E; 74L; 74M; 83M; 83N; 83O; 83P; 84; 85; 93M; 93N; 93O; 93P; 94; 95; 106; 116; 103N; 103O; 103P; 104; 105; 114; 115; 117; 107
AreaBeaufort Sea; Amundsen Gulf; McClintock Channel; Coronation Gulf; Cape Bathurst; Mackenzie Delta
Lat/Long WENS-170.0000 -96.0000 80.0000 55.0000
Subjectsenvironmental geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; paleontology; fossil fuels; Economics and Industry; Nature and Environment; vegetation; wetlands; palynology; wildlife; glacial features; glacial landforms; glacial deposits; permafrost; pingos; landslide deposits; landslides; ground ice; massive ice; hydrate; hydrocarbons; gas; coastal studies; coastal erosion; coastal environment; freezing ground; sea level fluctuations; sea level changes; thermal history; frost action; temperature; ground temperatures; ice movement; ice rafting; ice retreat; ice transport directions; ice movement directions; hydrologic environment; climate, arctic; climatology; climate; Fish; Whales; Birds; Seals; Climate change; Cenozoic; Quaternary
Illustrationsphotographs; location maps; photomicrographs; cross-sections; block diagrams; drawings; location maps
ProgramGSC Northern Canada Division
Released2014 07 15
The Beaufort Coastlands, lying adjacent to the southeastern Beaufort Sea, include the northern basin of the Mackenzie River drainage area. These lands are home to more than 7500 people, most of whom are aboriginal residents. Natural conditions, particularly the climate, seriously affect the livelihood of these Arctic dwellers in both a beneficial and calamitous manner. For example, fair conditions can introduce a bountiful wildlife harvest everywhere, but a harsh climate can forestall both land and marine migrations and interfere with hunting activities. This latter event may produce a low yield of much-needed animal resources. Reports on climate warming are based on observations of a shrinking volume of sea ice, and the drilling records and instrument readings that show a deepening summer thaw of permafrost. Several years of continuous thermistor records, during the last two decades of the 20th century, fully attest to these warming phenomena. These signs of change are not catastrophic at present, nor is the debate on their origin entirely resolved. The period of time in which the warming effect is taking place, as well as its projected length and intensity, are also unknown. In the matter of slope stability, human livelihoods and wildlife habitats can be adversely affected. Therefore it is essential that many aspects of the terrain such as slope failure, coastal processes involving erosion, coastal retreat, and weather elements including precipitation, air temperatures and wind variables be monitored daily and monthly. To be most useful in monitoring exercises, hazardous natural events and changes to the environment must be recorded concurrently. Wildlife on land, marine mammals at sea and on the ice, and the fisheries and their harvests are the entities that must be included in these environmental studies because of their essential role in the welfare of aboriginal people, as well as their ecological relationships. More than four million birds visit the area each year for purposes of migratory staging, nesting and feeding. These activities occur along the coastal zone and the lower waterways that empty into the Beaufort Sea, mainly where wetlands, sandbars, inlets, headlands and cliffs provide habitats for avian existence. The entire community of birds must also be considered in plans designed to protect both inland and coastal living niches. It is essential that contingency planning be continued, or introduced in regions that must be protected. This Atlas is designed to serve as a background for such studies that will be beneficial for the occupants and visiting users of this varied suite of habitats. The infrastructure of the Coastlands must be maintained, expanded and protected due to the growing population. Such necessities as transportation and communications corridors must undergo a similar protective attention in order that the safety and security of the region is maintained. Roads, cable routes and fuel transportation lines all require safe rights-of-way; therefore, to address these potential exigencies and the demand for utilities, the need for safe routes are included in the overall hazards-avoidance plans. These practices will require a cadre of professional and technical specialists, and a pool of workers prepared to perform assignments as required. Such a work force will require considerable background information, some of which is provided in this Atlas. In the past, the petroleum industry has engaged northerners in training and production programs, as well as in active employment in the exploration of hydrocarbons. Thus, a wage economy for the native community was fostered, and this led to a support infrastructure for the petroleum industry and the community alike. Today some of that infrastructure is devoted to an entirely new industry throughout the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and northern mainland that venture is now called Eco-Tourism (see Frontispiece). Fleets of marine vessels, ice-breaking equipment and search-and-rescue activities may need to be expanded which, in turn, will be a further boost to the economy of the Far North. Should climate warming ensue, this industry may grow; however, it is likely to increase even if present conditions prevail into the near future. A recreational industry is also thriving in the Coastlands and its surrounding fluvial and hilly regions to the south. This new industry is supported in an administrative sense by the offices of the territorial governments responsible for separate regions such as Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. For example, in the matter of publications and the maintenance of an infrastructure, support is afforded for such activities as hiking, fishing, boating, and touring. The recipients of these services and participants in these activities include nature lovers, visitors to heritage and historical sites and museums, entrepreneurs of small commercial ventures, and numerous recreational business people. Another important aspect to consider in the further development of the Beaufort Coastlands is the issue of governance. This thrust will create its own momentum as local municipalities at the territorial level seek self-government, even though the aegis of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has provided security for the region since later historical times. Members of this agency are continuing these duties, as selfgovernment is sought and northern municipalities move toward that goal. As eco-tourism and other employment opportunities increase, and should climate warming provide easier access to the marine and coastal areas adjacent to the northlands, the political expedience of self-governance may become less of an option and more of a necessity. To achieve these progressive goals and adjust to evolving natural hazards, it is necessary to assess the dominant factors in the area that would culminate in these objectives. As a first approach, an inventory of critical information on natural science, sociology, and associated oil-spill problems was achieved by the petroleum and related industries in liaison with the Canadian government during the mid-1970s, when the Beaufort Sea Project was organized and carried out. It resulted in a series of excellent studies and accompanying reports that were published by Environment Canada (Ottawa). This was the beginning of a major effort to address deficiencies in existing coastal offshore technology and the tremendous gap in oceanographic science extant at that time. Two comprehensive works dealing with logistics of oil spill remediation have been published by the Arctic Petroleum Operators Association in 1979, and D.F. Dickens Associate Ltd., and ESL Environmental Science Ltd for Environment Canada in 1987. During this period, several papers dealing with the marine sciences of the Beaufort Sea were published in two atlases by the Geological Survey of Canada (Natural Resources Canada). Since then several hundreds of excellent topical papers by workers in industry, universities and government have contributed to a considerable scientific, sociological and industrial knowledge base of the area. An exceptional collection of papers published in 2000 deals with the physical environment of the Mackenzie Valley and an assessment of its environmental change. This compendium is edited by L.D. Dyke and G.R. `Brooks 2000 of the GSC, Ottawa. The present volume, an extension of the Marine Sciences Atlas series, deals mainly with natural environmental issues of the Beaufort Coastlands, and has been assembled to assist workers and agencies in various fields who are involved in the protection and the development of the area. A summary of these environmental topics is given in the INTRODUCTION that follows this PREFACE. The full account is presented in the 70 essays, 98 maps, and more than 200 captioned photographs that form the main body of the Atlas. Collectively the main thrust of this atlas, exclusive of adding to our scientific and developmental inventory, is to signal awareness of potential harm to the physical environment, whether it occurs through economic development or climate change, by outlining potential damage and prevention, and by indicating applicable measures pertaining to restoration and preservation. As well as focusing on the three major settings, which include the inland areas, the coastal features and the immediate inshore of the Beaufort Sea, emphasis is placed on the damage to the land features associated with the profusion of wildlife habitats. All these features must be scrutinized carefully and thoroughly as they represent potential harm to the way of life of the native inhabitants.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This Atlas provides background on the physical environment of the Beaufort Coastlands. Furthermore, it is designed to show the relationship between wildlife and the physical characteristics of the coastlands, with a view toward understanding the former as a sustainable resource for the people of the region. Climate change is a major concern in the western Arctic region of Canada and this Atlas presents important baseline information against which future changes may be compared. The Atlas also highlights many environmental aspects, including permafrost, coastal erosion and wildlife, that may be particularly sensitive to climatic changes.

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