Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory (CBAWO), Meville Island, Nunavut: Impacts of changing permafrost and hydrology on nutrients, dissolved organic matter in High Arctic catchments.

My research at the CBAWO is part of a collaborative integrated watershed research program that has operated at the site since 2005. This research is focused on investigations of the effects of changes in precipitation (snow and summer rainfall) and permafrost conditions (active layer depth and disturbances, permafrost temperature) on hydrology and inorganic solute, nitrogen, and carbon dynamics in High Arctic watersheds. Research under this program examines the movement and composition of water, solutes, nitrogen and organic carbon from a series of watersheds, experimental plots, ponds and lakes with varying types of vegetation, snowpack conditions, and varying degrees of permafrost disturbance. Through these intensive field and laboratory based investigations the research aims to develop an integrated understanding of the hydrological and biogeochemical processes that control water quality and C and N dynamics in surface waters. This ongoing research has been funded through a number of grants from NSERC Discovery, ArcticNet, ADAPT (Arctic Development and Adaptation to Permafrost in Transition) and other programs, and with logistics support from the Polar Continental Shelf Programme.

The CBAWO is the longest running integrated watershed study in the Canadian High Arctic. This natural observatory offers a unique training experience, with opportunities to participate in numerous aspects of the collaborative research that take place at this site. For more information you can also visit the CBAWO web site and blog.

Niaqunguk (Apex) River Watershed, Iqaluit, Nunavut

Research at the Niaqunguk (also know as the Apex) River in Iqaluit was initiated in May 2013, and consists of collaborative research program aimed at understanding the hydrological and water quality response of the watershed to changing climatic and permafrost conditions. The Apex is an important river for the city of Iqaluit, and research there is motivated by interest and concerns by local residents, decision makers and the city about changing river flows and water quality.  There is an abundance of local informal land use in the watershed, including fishing, water collection, berry picking, dog walking, travel and camping. This intense of land use demonstrates the need to for a thorough understanding of the hydrological and biogeochemical regimes in the watershed, especially in light of projected population growth and climate change.

Key research questions include how will changing active layer and permafrost conditions and precipitation regimes (as snow and rain) change water volumes, dominant water sources and water quality. This research project offers a unique opportunity to participate in arctic watershed research that is of direct and critical importance to northerners.

This integrated research program is funded through grants from ArcticNet, NSERC, and Polar Knowledge Canada, and is being conducted in collaboration investigators from Université de Montréal and Carleton University, as well as with partners at the Nunavut Research Institute. For more information on any research opportunities please contact Dr. Lafrenière.

Impact of thermo-erosion gullies on carbon and N fluxes, in Simirlik National Park, Bylot Island, NU.

This research project aims to assess the impact of thermo-erosion gullies on the seasonality, composition and total export of dissolved and particulate organic carbon (DOC and POC) from a gully network in ice wedge polygons within the Qarlikturvik Valley (also known as glacier C-79 valley), on the southwestern plain of Bylot Island. Thermo-erosion gullies have the potential act as important vectors for the transfer of carbon and nutrients from terrestrial to aquatic systems, and thus significantly alter terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem carbon dynamics in Arctic environments. This research aims to determine how the quantity and lability of the carbon moving through the thermo erosion gullies change, as the gullies evolve in this landscape. This research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Fortier’s Geocryolab at the Université de Montréal and with the Centre d’études Nordique (CEN). The research is supported by funding for field logistics from the Polar Continental Shelf Program and NSERC Discovery grants to Drs. Fortier and Lafrenière.


Banner depicting various field activities and research locations