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TitleGeomorphic feature mapping along the Dempster Highway and Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway corridor, Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada
AuthorSladen, W; Morse, PORCID logo; Kokelj, S; Parker, R; Smith, SORCID logo
SourceArctic Change 2020 abstracts (continued); Arctic Science 554, 2021 p. 361-362, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200518
PublisherCanadian Science Publishing
MeetingArctic Change 2020; December 7-10, 2020
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
RelatedThis publication is related to the following publications
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceNorthwest Territories; Yukon
NTS106E; 106F; 106K; 106L; 106M; 106N; 107B; 107C
AreaInuvik; Tuktoyaktuk; Tsiigehtchic; Fort McPherson; Eagle Plains; Dawson; Arctic Ocean; Mackenize River; Richardson Mountains; Ogilvie Mountains
Lat/Long WENS-135.0000 -133.0000 69.8333 65.7500
Lat/Long WENS-135.0000 -133.0000 69.8333 65.7500
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; hydrogeology; geophysics; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; Transport; permafrost; ground ice; periglacial features; terrain sensitivity; landforms; climate effects; mapping techniques; remote sensing; satellite imagery; landslides; landslide deposits; mass wasting; slope failures; topography; vegetation; ecosystems; physiography; climate; modelling; Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands; Road networks; Climate change; permafrost thaw; Infrastructures; Arctic; Arctic ecosystems; Methodology; Classification; Hydrology; colluvial and mass-wasting deposits
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Permafrost
Released2021 06 22
AbstractThaw of ice-rich permafrost can reduce ground stability, modify terrain, and alter drainage patterns, affecting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and presenting significant challenges to northern societies. Permafrost thaw can have a major influence on the integrity of critical ground-based transportation infrastructure. The landforms that arise due to permafrost and periglacial processes can indicate ground ice presence and sensitive permafrost terrain. To map spatial variability in periglacial terrain conditions we developed a robust methodology to classify and digitize key landforms in 3-D using synthetic stereo pairs generated from high-resolution (0.6 m) satellite imagery and custom scripts to semi-automate attribute assignment. Hydrological, periglacial, and mass movement landforms were identified at 1:10 000 scale, and digitized at 1:5 000 scale, along a 10 km-wide corridor centred on the 875 km-long Dempster and Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway corridor (8411 km2). The road traverses a variety of geological and physiographic terrain types, and though permafrost distribution is continuous, variation in climate, relief, ecology, and disturbance have produced a diverse range of permafrost conditions and landforms. Results indicate that distribution of the 8850 landforms mapped varies with physiographic region. The northern-most 3277 km2 of the study area contains the majority of the periglacial (82%) and hydrological (88%) features and reflects the extent of ground ice and permafrost-thaw sensitivity in the northern regions. Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands alone contain the greatest number and density of landforms by an order of magnitude compared with the other physiographic regions. Slope and mass wasting dominate the southern 60% of the corridor, which are, coincidentally, the physiographic regions with the highest relative relief. These data provide a basis for developing relationships between landforms and landscape characteristics and for developing spatial models of landscape thaw susceptibility. NRCan contribution number: 20200518.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Thawing of ice-rich permafrost, which can be caused by climate change or development on permafrost, can be hazardous to northern infrastructure. Here we present an approach to better understand the distribution of permafrost landforms and their relation to the variety of terrain types found along the Dempster and Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk highway, the only road access to the Canadian western Arctic. Mapping results show that the majority of landforms identified as ice-rich, such as ice-wedge polygons, are concentrated in the Arctic physiographic regions, indicating the high thaw sensitivity of these terrain units. These data can be used in developing models to assess the thaw susceptibility of permafrost terrain.

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