Earthwatch: Monitoring Permafrost in the Canadian Arctic
Today I leave to join an Earthwatch team at the Churchill, Manitoba Northern Studies Centre in support of a research project called Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge.
Dr. Peter Kershaw of the University of Alberta is the principal investigator of the project. His research involves monitoring the condition of permafrost and peatland along the arctic treeline where forest transitions into tundra.
Melting permafrost is already shifting landforms and causing damage to homes, buildings, and infrastructure. The circumpolar transition zone of permafrost and peat act as a vast store of carbon and methane. As the permafrost degrades, this stored carbon and methane is released into the atmosphere and the resulting positive feedback loop is yet another warning sign of accelerating climate change in the north.
Our tasks over the eleven day expedition is to assist Dr. Kershaw and his team in sampling snowpack conditions and collecting data for ongoing monitoring of the changing conditions in the region.
I will attempt to post progress reports from the field, though it is unclear it this point how feasible that will be. Needless to say, upon my return the first week of March I will post a full report on the experience and what I learned.
In the interim, look for posts from Andrew Burger a colleague of mine from TriplePundit.com.
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