Ecosystem response to permafrost thaw: changes to aqueous C cycling.

Project keywords:

Carbon cycling, permafrost thaw, ecosystem change

Name of project lead: W. Quinton

Project team/partners: For each collaborator please specify: Team member name, role, organization and contact information
 O. Sonnentag, M. Turetsky, D. Olefeldt, J. Baltzer.

Status: In Progress

Location: Scotty Creek

Year and month project started: 2013

Anticipated completion year of project? 2016

Executive year of project (example, year 1 or 2 or 3…) 1

Brief project description:

The goal of the proposed project is to better define the aqueous and evasive transport of C of a boreal forest-peatland landscape characterized by rapidly degrading discontinuous permafrost. In September 2012, a 15m-tower structure was erected at Scotty Creek to measure the ecosystem-scale net exchanges of energy, water, CO2 and CH4 using the eddy covariance technique. Previous research at Scotty Creek and nearby sites has demonstrated the importance of trees for aggrading and/or sustaining permafrost, mostly by reducing the radiative load received at the ground surface and by higher snow accumulation. Currently, increased warming causes permafrost at Scotty Creek to rapidly degrade with a resulting decrease in forest cover and concomitant ground surface subsidence, leading to the formation and expansion of collapse bogs and channel fens in response to wetter conditions.

Significance of the results (rationale): / project linkages

What are the key contributions to science/our knowledge base of northern environments

Improved process understanding of how permafrost thaw alters carbon cycling of peatland ecosystems. Improved representation of carbon fluxes in predictive models. Improved understanding of climate feedbacks.

 Key deliverables and reporting: Link to needs of NWT

Improved understanding of permafrost thaw impacts on water quality will lead to improved assessment of water resource use and management in southern Taiga Plains experiencing widespread permafrost thaw.

Engagement, training and capacity building

This project examines the impact of permafrost thaw on water quality. As such it is closely tied to Project 1 (Influence of permafrost thaw on mercury and heavy metal export in the lower Liard Valley, NWT). As such it is part of the same dialogue with the communities identified in that project, i.e. Stanley Sanguez, Jean-Marie FN; George Low, DFN/AAROM; members of the Trout Lake FN. Consultation is mostly informal through face-to-face discussion at band offices, at the annual meeting of the Laurier-GNWT Partnership, and at AAROM meetings organised by G. Low (e.g. Kakisa, Aug., 2013).

Links to WSIPlan and NWT Science Agenda

Key to Success 2.1 H (Water Stewardship Strategy) 
Enhance, where needed, the existing water quality and quantity monitoring network (surface and groundwater) in the NWT.
Key to Success 2.1 I (Water Stewardship Strategy)
- Develop and implement collaborative research and monitoring programs for environmental stressors that can contribute to cumulative effects on NWT watersheds

Key project tasks for next year (work plan pieces – research)

Key project tasks for next year (work plan pieces – engagement, training and capacity building)

Published Papers

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