Loek Pascaud
Master student
Department of Applied Geomatics
University of Sherbrooke

Supervised by:

Frédéric Bouchard (Regular member)

Co-supervised by:

Milla Rautio (Regular member)

Research project description

Impacts of permafrost degradation on the limnological properties of a series of lakes in the Canadian High Arctic

Introduction: The accelerated climate warming in the Arctic, two to four times faster than elsewhere, has profound impacts on ecosystems and infrastructure (Box et al., 2019), such as permafrost thaw and the release of mineral materials (sediments, metals) and organic matter (GHG emissions like CO2 and CH4) (Miner et al., 2022). These impacts affect northern landscapes at different levels, requiring an in-depth understanding to address them.Objectives: This project aims on the monitoring of limnological properties (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, turbidity, dissolved organic matter) of lakes in a continuous permafrost region near an Inuit community. The objectives are to assess the hydrological health and stability of lakes in response to climate change, analyze variations in lake surfaces over time, and anticipate potential permafrost degradation.Study sites: The study site, Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) in Nunavut, is an area where publications on the current state and future degradation risks of permafrost in the region are currently lacking. In a context where episodes of abrupt and localized permafrost degradation seem to have accelerated in the past decades in the Canadian Arctic's central-west region, such monitoring in a relatively "pristine" and understudied site appears essential.Material and methods: Field campaign near the village of Ikaluktutiak, Nunavut, using techniques from geomorphology, limnology, sedimentology, and remote sensing. Water samples will be collected from the lakes for physico-chemical and isotopic analyses. Limnological data will be gathered to assess lake resilience to evaporation, drainage, and sediment input. Analysis of aerial and satellite images will enable quantification of lake surface variations, confirming recent thaw and erosion events.References: Box, J. E., Colgan, W. T., Christensen, T. R. et al. (2019). Key indicators of Arctic climate change: 1971–2017. Environmental Research Letters, 14(4), 045010. Miner, K.R., Turetsky, M.R., Malina, E. et al. (2022). Permafrost carbon emissions in a changing Arctic. Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, 3, 55–67.

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