Consortium for Permafrost Ecosystems in Transition (CPET)


PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS: Ryan Connon (PhD student, Laurier)

James Craig (University of Waterloo)

Elizabeth Chasmer (University of Lethbridge)

Aaron Berg (University of Guelph)

E. Johnson (Northeast Water Strategy, Government of British Columbia, Victoria, BC)

Michael Braverman (MSc student, Laurier)

Kristine Haynes (PDF, Laurier)

Tom Lakusta (ENR, Forestry Division, GNWT)

James McLaughlin (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

Elise Devoie (PhD student, Laurier)

PROJECT LOCATION: Dehcho Region, Southern Taiga Plains.

The Taiga Plains ecoregion in northwestern Canada is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. It is experiencing unprecedented industrial expansion. Climate warming and human disturbance in this ecoregion has led to widespread permafrost thaw and land cover change that has disrupted the hydrological cycle and the ecosystems and human activities that depend on it. However, the patterns, rates and mechanisms of permafrost thaw, and feedbacks and transformations of ecosystems are poorly understood, and consequently the water resources of this region have an uncertain future. There is therefore, an urgent need to investigate hydrological and ecological changes resulting from permafrost thaw in the Taiga Plains, develop and mobilise knowledge of these changes, develop predictive modelling tools, and provide interactive training to decision makers and other users. In response to this need, we proposed the Consortium for Permafrost Ecosystems in Transition (CPET). CPET is a regional consortium of territorial, provincial and federal government agencies, industry, NGOs, local communities and First Nations, all focussed on the development, dissemination and uptake of new knowledge and predictive capacity on the impacts of permafrost thaw on their shared water resource.

The long-term objective of CPET is to improve the understanding and prediction of water flow and storage processes in the thawing, peatland-dominated southern fringe of discontinuous permafrost. The project focusses on a Northern and Southern node and the intervening 200 km transect through the NWT’s southern fringe of thawing, discontinuous permafrost (Fig. 1). Process studies and model development are focused on two Primary basins: Scotty Creek and Suhm Creek. The transferability of processes and models will be tested at two Secondary basins: Jean-Marie River and Calendar Creek. Along the transect are twelve remote sensing areas of interest (AOIs) which are used to examine ecosystem changes along the north-south transition, and over time.

The consortium approach is fundamental to CPET and is greatly facilitated by the GNWT’s well-developed communication channels with regional and local entities, powerful engagement tools that help CPET to maximize knowledge dissemination and application. The GNWT-Laurier Partnership has allowed CPET researchers to establish strong connections to policy-makers in the NWT. Such regular interaction with the receptor community allows for a direct translation of research outcomes to decision makers. The close connection with the GNWT ensures that CPET will focus on priority items in the NWT Water Strategy; a made-in-the-North Strategy intended to guide the long-term stewardship of water resources.


·      Scotty Creek Research Station (

·      Cold Regions Research Centre (