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The distribution of permafrost near Fort Severn, Ontario

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posted on 30.08.2018, 03:00 authored by Candice Rémillard-Scott, Pascale Roy-léveilléePascale Roy-léveillée, Chantal Sarrazin-Delay, David Pearson
This poster was presented at the 2018 International Geographical Union conference in Quebec City.

Remillard-Scott C, Roy-Leveillee P, Sarrazin-Delay, C, Pearson, D (2018) The distribution of permafrost near fort Severn Ontario. In 2018 International Geographical Union - Canadian Association of Geographers – National Conference for Geographic Education, August 6-10 2018, Quebec City. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.7026362

Permafrost along the southern edge of Hudson Bay, ON, Canada, is classified as continuous, i.e. underlying >90% of the area. This extent of permafrost at such low latitudes is an anomaly, and results from the cooling effect of sea ice on the Bay. Due to rapid changes in sea ice, the continuous permafrost south of Hudson Bay is particularly vulnerable to change and susceptible to becoming discontinuous. Fort Severn, ON, is in this continuous permafrost zone and local residents report dramatic changes in local permafrost conditions. This research assessed permafrost distribution at Fort Severn by examining the relation between vegetation cover and the occurrence of near-surface permafrost. Research objectives were to: (1) produce a map of land cover in Fort Severn using satellite imagery and field data; (2) investigate relations between vegetation cover and the distribution of near-surface permafrost; and (3) assess whether the permafrost distribution near Fort Severn is likely to still be continuous. Vegetation and permafrost surveys were conducted in August 2017. Land cover was grouped in three classes: disturbed, shrubby, and forested. Near-surface permafrost occurred at 60% of the forested sites, 50% of the disturbed sites, and none of the shrubby sites. If permafrost distribution at Fort Severn is representative of the region, these results suggest that the continuous permafrost zone of the Ontario Far North may have transitioned to discontinuous permafrost. More permafrost research and surveys should be conducted in the region, as rapid change in permafrost conditions could severely impact northern infrastructure and communities.