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TitleInfrastructure and climate warming impacts on ground thermal regime, Iqaluit International Airport, southern Baffin Island, Nunavut
AuthorLeBlanc, A -MORCID logo; Oldenborger, G AORCID logo; Sladen, W E; Allard, M
SourceCanada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, Summary of Activities 2014, 2014 p. 119-132 Open Access logo Open Access
LinksOnline - En ligne
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20140323
PublisherCanada-Nunavut Geoscience Office
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS -68.5667 -68.5333 63.7667 63.7333
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; engineering geology; Nature and Environment; permafrost; freezing ground; ground ice; ground temperatures; frost cracks; frost heaving; satellite imagery; thermal analyses; thermal regimes; RADARSAT-2
Illustrationslocation maps; graphs; profiles; images
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Land-based Infrastructure
Released2014 01 01
AbstractIn the context of a changing climate, for planned or newly built infrastructure it is useful to differentiate between the effects of climate warming and anthropogenic factors on the permafrost thermal regime. In 2010, a study was initiated on permafrost sensitivity and terrain conditions for the Iqaluit InternationalAirport, Nunavut. The airport has a history of terrain stability problems and is now entering a major improvement phase. The separate and combined impacts of climate warming, snow accumulation and the infrastructure itself on the ground thermal regime were simulated using numerical modelling. Results indicate that the thermal impact of a thick snow cover year after year outweighs the effect of a warming trend in air temperature of 1°C per decade over 30 years. Change in the ground thermal regime over time due only to new embankment material depends on ground surface and permafrost conditions prior to the embankment construction. Embankment insulationwith polystyrene causes the permafrost table to initiallymove upward; however, over time, the relatively large increase in the active-layer thickness below the insulation might eventually affect the stability of the embankment and the permafrost. Following an increase in air temperature of 3°C over 30 years, the simulations indicatemaximum increases in activelayer thickness and permafrost temperature of 0.9mand 1.8°C at 15mdepth, with the warmest ground found under the toe of the old apron embankment as well as under the original paved surfaces.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Iqaluit International Airport is a critical component of Nunavut's infrastructure to maintain and increase economics opportunity in Iqaluit, eastern Arctic and across Canada's North. The airport has a history of terrain stability problems which many of them are related to permafrost and terrain conditions. To ensure that the airport continues to serve as the largest business gateway to Nunavut, the Government of Nunavut in partnership with the industry have moved forward with the Iqaluit International Airport Improvement Project. With the onset of climate warming and newly built infrastructure, the underlying permafrost will continue to warm and possibly degrade causing additional maintenance and sustainability problems. This study presents the separate and combined impacts of climate warming, snow accumulation, and the infrastructure itself on the ground thermal regime using numerical modelling. The understanding generated by this study will help northern transportation infrastructure managers to better understand the causes behind the thermal changes of permafrost.

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