The Canadian Permafrost Association is pleased to host the CPA Webinar Series, an intermittent webinar series to be held virtually over Zoom. Through the Webinar Series, the CPA aims to encourage exposure to and discussion about current developments in permafrost science and engineering in Canada.
The webinar recordings are available to view to CPA members via the members-only section of the website. To join the CPA, please visit the CPA Membership page.
The first webinar of the series was held on July 13, 2021, with a presentation by Dr. Fabrice Calmels, a Permafrost and Geoscience Research Chair at the Yukon University Research Centre. Dr. Calmels is a geosciences and northern environment specialist whose work is devoted to the impact of climate and environmental change on Canadian landscapes, communities, and infrastructure. Dr. Calmels has worked in Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavik.
The second webinar featured two early career researchers - Adam Kirkwood, a PhD Candidate at Laurentian University, and Samuel Gagnon a postdoctoral fellow working at Université de Montréal - and was held on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.
The Hudson Bay Lowlands (HBL) is the largest peatland in North America, and hosts North America's lowest latitude continuous permafrost. The HBL stores 30 Pg of carbon, and is estimated to have amongst the highest storage of mercury compared to the remainder of the circumpolar north. Due to climate warming in the HBL, permafrost is thawing, which leads to changes in environmental variables such as temperature and moisture that impact the biogeochemical cycling of these two important elements. Little is known about how permafrost thaw in the HBL impacts the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), and the conversion of inorganic mercury to it's organic and neurotoxic form of methylmercury. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to understand how thawing permafrost creates environments that may be more or less suitable for microbial processes such as methane production (methanogenesis) and the conversion of inorganic mercury to methylmercury (methylation). With several years of fieldwork, sample collection, and laboratory experiments, this research contributes important new information on how permafrost landscapes in the HBL are changing, and what this means for greenhouse gas and methylmercury production.
The accelerated warming of the Arctic and subarctic at the circumpolar scale has led to permafrost instability and degradation, causing structural damage to transportation infrastructure and increasing maintenance and repair costs. As a result, mitigation techniques have been developed to stop or reduce permafrost degradation under infrastructure. This study tested the efficacy of air-convection-reflective sheds (ACRS) installed along the Alaska Highway in Yukon (Canada). Soil surface, air, and ground temperatures were recorded under the ACRS between 2008 and 2016, which were then compared with values from an unmitigated road embankment and from the natural ground near the road embankment. The design of the ACRS blocked incoming solar radiation, prevented snow accumulation, and promoted air convection through the stack effect, which resulted in a cooling efficiency of 358% compared to the reference site. The net heat loss resulted in a 6.3°C cooling of the average soil surface temperature and caused the active layer thickness to decrease by nearly two meters, thus stopping permafrost warming, promoting permafrost recovery and its upward aggradation in the embankment. Implementations of the ACRS in specific vulnerable or degraded sections of roads and airstrips represents a viable solution to permafrost thaw and embankment failure.
The third webinar of the CPA Webinar series, was held on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, with a presentation by Dr. Guy Doré, Associate professor, Civil and water engineering department, Université Laval.
With climate warming affecting Northern Canada at a breathtaking pace and with more frequent and more intense precipitations, permafrost can no longer be considered as permanently frozen soils. In such a rapidly changing environment, we need to reconsider our approach to foundation design and to intensify the development of tools to support infrastructure management in permafrost regions. The presentation looks at some of the design practices currently used and will suggest some improvements likely to help addressing the problems related to permafrost in transition. It also highlights the importance of the development decision-making tools to support infrastructure management in Northern Canada.
A virtual tour of the Yukon Permafrost Database by Emilie Stewart-Jones and the Yukon Geological Survey, was presented on April 6th, 2022.
As permafrost degradation increasingly impacts Yukon communities and infrastructure, access to data describing Yukon permafrost is of vital importance. Beginning in 2019, the Yukon Permafrost Database was created to make Yukon permafrost data available to users in a variety of fields. This presentation will include background on the development of the database, a brief overview of the data it contains and a virtual tour of the online database portal.
On November 3, 2022, Sue Natalie of the Woodwell Climate Research Center joined us for the 5th webinar in our series.
Beginning in 2022, Permafrost Pathways, brings together experts in arctic and climate science, policy action, and environmental justice to inform and develop adaptation and mitigation strategies to address permafrost thaw. This presentation will provide an overview of the motivation, approach, objectives, and progress to date for the Permafrost Pathways project. As this project is just getting started, this will be an opportunity to provide input/feedback and to discuss potential areas for collaboration or networking for CPA members.