Permafrost

WHAT IS PERMAFROST?

Permafrost is soil or rock that remains frozen from one year to the next and is an important component of the northern Canadian landscape.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Permafrost, and the ice it contains, influences northern ecosystems and hydrological systems and presents challenges to northern development. Warming and thawing of permafrost occurs in response to climate change and to environmental disturbances associated with human activity. The warming and thawing can cause ground instability and alter drainage patterns, which has implications for natural systems and infrastructure integrity. Knowledge of current permafrost conditions and sensitivity to warming is essential for informed decisions regarding resource development, land management and for shaping infrastructure design and climate change adaptation strategies.

OUR RESEARCH

Permafrost research focuses on characterizing the thermal condition and physical properties of permafrost terrain, including their spatial and temporal variations. An important component is understanding permafrost-infrastructure interactions under current and future climate conditions. A permafrost monitoring network provides long-term observations of permafrost thermal state through time, improving prediction of future conditions. Satellite observations can complement surface networks by providing information relevant to characterizing permafrost terrain over large areas.

Ice rich ground near Yellowknife NWT (P. Morse Aug. 2014)

Ice rich ground near Yellowknife NWT (P. Morse Aug. 2014)

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Thaw slump along Yellowknife River NWT (S. Wolfe June 2015)

Thaw slump along Yellowknife River NWT (S. Wolfe June 2015)

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