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TitleThe Northwest Territories Thermokarst Mapping Collective: a northern-driven mapping collaborative toward understanding the effects of permafrost thaw
AuthorKokelj, S V; Gingras-Hill, T; Daly, S; Morse, P DORCID logo; Wolfe, S AORCID logo; Rudy, A C A; van der Sluijs, J; Weiss, N; Baltzer, J L; Cazon, D; Gibson, C; Fraser, R HORCID logo; Froese, D G; Giff, G; Klengenberg, C; Lantz, T C; Lamoureux, S F; O'Neill, H BORCID logo; Quinton, W L; Turetsky, M R; Chiasson, A; Ferguson, C; Newton, M; Pope, M; Paul, J A; Wilson, A M; Young, J M
SourceArctic Science 2023 p. 1-33, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20230248
PublisherCanadian Science Publishing
Mediapaper; digital; on-line
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceNorthwest Territories
Lat/Long WENS-155.0000 -88.0000 78.0000 55.0000
SubjectsScience and Technology; general geology; Nature and Environment; thermokarst; permafrost; permafrost thaw
Illustrationsphotographs; location maps; tables; diagrams; graphs
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Permafrost
ProgramCanada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) Canada Centre for Remote Sensing
Released2023 09 21
AbstractThis paper documents the first comprehensive inventory of thermokarst and thaw-sensitive terrain indicators for a 2 million km2 region of northwestern Canada. This is accomplished through the Thermokarst Mapping Collective (TMC), a research collaborative to systematically inventory indicators of permafrost thaw sensitivity by mapping and aerial assessments across the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada. The increase in NT-based permafrost capacity has fostered science leadership and collaboration with government, academic, and community researchers to enable project implementation. Ongoing communications and outreach have informed study design and strengthened Indigenous and stakeholder relationships. Documentation of theme-based methods supported mapper training, and flexible data infrastructure facilitated progress by Canada-wide researchers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The TMC inventory of thermokarst and thaw-sensitive landforms agree well with fine-scale empirical mapping (69% to 84% accuracy) and aerial inventory (74% to 96% accuracy) datasets. National- and circumpolar-scale modelling of sensitive permafrost terrain contrasts significantly with TMC outputs, highlighting their limitations and the value of empirically-based mapping approaches. We demonstrate that the multi-parameter TMC outputs support a holistic understanding and refined depictions of permafrost terrain sensitivity, provide novel opportunities for regional syntheses, and inform future modelling approaches, which are urgently required to comprehend better what permafrost thaw means for Canada's North.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This research determined the diversity and distribution of terrain affected by permafrost thaw for a 2 million km2 region of Northwestern Canada. The work was accomplished by permafrost researchers across Canada collaborating through a northern-driven project called the Northwest Territories Thermokarst Mapping Collective (TMC). It addresses a significant knowledge gap about broad-scale distribution and variability of thaw-sensitive terrain and related geological hazards. Ongoing communications of scientific methods and maps have informed study design and strengthened linkages with Indigenous partners and other northern organizations. The results show substantial variation in the nature and distribution of thaw-sensitive terrain and contribute to a more holistic understanding of thaw-driven landscape change. This is urgently required to understand impacts of permafrost thaw across Canada's North better and support novel opportunities for regional and community-based syntheses.

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