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2017 RCGS Independent Research Grant Recipient

Nicholas Brown
Estimation of ice loss in permafrost from temperature time-series measurements

Securing a temperature logger into bedrock, Umiujaq, Que. (Photo: Stephan Gruber)

Permafrost is warming across the North as a consequence of climate change. The impacts of permafrost warming include changes to water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and disruptions of ecological processes. Permafrost also loses mechanical strength as it warms and can result in the sinking or settling of the ground surface from melting ice, which can cause extensive damage to both infrastructure and fragile ecosystems. Previous research has demonstrated that relevant soil properties can be estimated using ground temperature data and sophisticated algorithms. However, these methods require prior site information that is not always available. 

This study aims to provide a more systematic way to assess soil properties by evaluating a sequence of techniques to determine soil heat capacity, thermal conductivity, porosity, and two parameters describing the shape of the freezing characteristic curve, which describes the temperature-dependence of unfrozen water in the soil. These research findings could result in a better understanding of the impact of climate change on permafrost.


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