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TitleTracking changes in permafrost thermal state in northern Canada
AuthorSmith, S LORCID logo; Duchesne, CORCID logo; Lewkowicz, A G
SourceCold Regions Engineering 2019: proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering and the 8th Canadian Permafrost Conference,; by Bilodeau, J -P (ed.); Nadeau, D F (ed.); Fortier, D (ed.); Conciatori, D (ed.); 2019 p. 670-677,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20190085
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers
Meeting18th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering and the 8th Canadian Permafrost Conference; Québec, QC; CA; August 18-22, 2019
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf (Adobe® Reader®)
ProvinceNorthwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; British Columbia
NTS25; 26; 27; 36; 37; 38; 47; 48; 94; 95; 96; 97; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-141.0000 -56.0000 90.0000 56.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; permafrost; ground ice; thermal regimes; ground temperatures; Climate change; Forests; permafrost thaw; monitoring; Trends
Illustrationsgeoscientific sketch maps; plots; time series; profiles
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Permafrost
ProgramPolar Continental Shelf Program
Released2019 08 08
AbstractGround temperatures collected in Northern Canada in the decade following the international polar year (IPY 2007-09) have been compared to the IPY baseline to assess recent change in permafrost thermal state. Since IPY, permafrost has generally warmed with greater changes in temperature (>0.5°C) occurring in colder permafrost of tundra sites than at forested sites underlain by warm permafrost. The permafrost warming over the last decade continues the trend observed in longer term records, at some sites over three to four decades. Trends in permafrost temperature are consistent with those in air temperature although other factors such as vegetation, substrate conditions, and proximity of ground temperature to 0°C are also important in explaining regional differences. Although temperature increases in warm permafrost have generally been of lower magnitude, thaw is occurring at many sites.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Permafrost temperatures measured across northern Canada in 2016-18 are compared to the baseline established during the International Polar Year (IPY, 2007-09) to update the previous assessment conducted in 2015. Permafrost has continued to warm since IPY at several sites with greater change occurring in the cold permafrost of the eastern and high Arctic. Although temperatures of warm permafrost have increased less, thawing of permafrost has been observed. Recent warming is consistent with that observed in longer records (30-40 years) available for some sites, indicating permafrost continues to warm and thaw in response to increasing air temperatures. These results are in agreement with assessments of change in other cryospheric components such as snow, sea ice and ice caps. Ongoing measurement of permafrost temperature provides essential data to improve climate change impact assessments and to inform decisions regarding the adaptation to these impacts.

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