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Kokelj S.V.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program | Lacelle D.,University of Ottawa | Lantz T.C.,University of Victoria | Tunnicliffe J.,Carleton University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface | Year: 2013

Ice-cored permafrost landscapes are highly sensitive to disturbance and have the potential to undergo dramatic geomorphic transformations in response to climate change. The acceleration of thermokarst activity in the lower Mackenzie and Peel River watersheds of northwestern Canada has led to the development of large permafrost thaw slumps and caused major impacts to fluvial systems. Individual "mega slumps" have thawed up to 106 m 3of ice-rich permafrost. The widespread development of these large thaw slumps (up to 40 ha area with headwalls of up to 25 m height) and associated debris flows drive distinct patterns of stream sediment and solute flux that are evident across a range of watershed scales. Suspended sediment and solute concentrations in impacted streams were several orders of magnitude greater than in unaffected streams. In summer, slump impacted streams displayed diurnal fluctuations in water levels and solute and sediment flux driven entirely by ground-ice thaw. Turbidity in these streams varied diurnally by up to an order of magnitude and followed the patterns of net radiation and ground-ice ablation in mega slumps. These diurnal patterns were discernible at the 103 km2 catchment scale, and regional disturbance inventories indicate that hundreds of watersheds are already influenced by slumping. The broad scale impacts of accelerated slumping are indicated by a significant increase in solute concentrations in the Peel River (70,000 km 2). These observations illustrate the nature and magnitude of hydrogeomorphic changes that can be expected as glaciogenic landscapes underlain by massive ice adjust to a rapidly changing climate. Key Points Documentation of thaw slumps of unprecedented magnitude and abundance Thawing ground ice is driving stream sediment and solute flux Impacts are detectable across a range of watershed scales ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Nasser N.A.,Carleton University | Patterson R.T.,Carleton University | Roe H.M.,Queen's University of Belfast | Galloway J.M.,Geological Survey of Canada | And 6 more authors.
Microbial Ecology | Year: 2016

Arcellininids (testate amoebae) were examined from 61 surface sediment samples collected from 59 lakes in the vicinity of former gold mines, notably Giant Mine, near Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada to determine their utility as bioindicators of arsenic (As), which occurs both as a byproduct of gold extraction at mines in the area and ore-bearing outcrops. Cluster analysis (Q-R-mode) and detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) reveal five arcellininid assemblages, three of which are related to varying As concentrations in the sediment samples. Redundancy analysis (RDA) showed that 14 statistically significant environmental parameters explained 57 % of the variation in faunal distribution, while partial RDA indicated that As had the greatest influence on assemblage variance (10.7 %; p < 0.10). Stress-indicating species (primarily centropyxids) characterized the faunas of samples with high As concentrations (median = 121.7 ppm, max > 10000 ppm, min = 16.1 ppm, n = 32), while difflugiid dominated assemblages were prevalent in substrates with relatively low As concentrations (median = 30.2 ppm, max = 905.2 ppm, min = 6.3 ppm, n = 20). Most of the lakes with very high As levels are located downwind (N and W) of the former Giant Mine roaster stack where refractory ore was roasted and substantial quantities of As were released (as As2O3) to the atmosphere in the first decade of mining. This spatial pattern suggests that a significant proportion of the observed As, in at least these lakes, are industrially derived. The results of this study highlight the sensitivity of Arcellinina to As and confirm that the group has considerable potential for assessing the impact of As contamination on lakes. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media New York


Palmer M.J.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program | Burn C.R.,Carleton University | Kokelj S.V.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences | Year: 2012

Air and near-surface ground temperatures, late-winter snow conditions, and characteristics of the vegetation cover and soil were measured across the forest-tundra transition in the uplands east of the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories, in 2004-2010. Mean late-winter snow depth decreased northward from 73 cm in the subarctic boreal forest near Inuvik to 22 cm in low-shrub tundra. Annual near-surface ground temperatures decreased northward by 0.1-0.3 °C/km near the northern limit of trees, in association with an abrupt change in snow depth. The rate decreased to 0.01-0.06 °C/km in the tundra. The freezing season is twice as long as the thawing season in the region, so measured differences in the regional ground thermal regime were dominated by the contrast in winter surface conditions between forest and tundra.


Morse P.D.,Carleton University | Burn C.R.,Carleton University | Kokelj S.V.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences | Year: 2012

Relations between snow cover, active-layer thickness, and near-surface ground temperatures were determined in 2005-2009 for a diverse range of alluvial and upland settings in the outer Mackenzie Delta. Here, the snow cover developed primarily by wind redistribution, with its spatial variation controlled by topography in uplands and vegetation height in alluvial lowlands. Snow cover was the primary influence on freeze-back duration and the mean annual temperature at the top of permafrost (TTOP), with the difference in median TTOP between alluvial (-3.7 °C) and upland (-6.1 °C) settings related to the greater snow depth and soil moisture in the alluvial plain. The active layer was generally deeper in the wet alluvial lowlands, where the average duration of active-layer freeze back (101 days) was nearly double the time taken in the well-drained uplands (55 days). The surface offset (ΔT S; up to 11 °C) dominated the difference between annual mean air temperature (AMAT) and TTOP (ΔT). In alluvial terrain, ΔT S varied with snow depth, but in the uplands, ΔT S was more consistent from site to site. The small thermal offset (<2 °C) was slightly greater in alluvial terrain than in the uplands. The overall range in ΔT (2-10 °C) led to a range during the study of 7.2 °C in TTOP at the sites. The range in AMAT was 1.3 °C but up to 1.7 °C in TTOP at any one site. Permafrost was well established throughout the area except adjacent to channels where TTOP was close to 0 °C.


Deison R.,University of Ottawa | Smol J.P.,Queen's University | Kokelj S.V.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program | Pisaric M.F.J.,Carleton University | And 5 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012

We examined dated sediment cores from 14 thermokarst affected lakes in the Mackenzie Delta uplands, NT, Arctic Canada, using a case-control analysis to determine how retrogressive thaw slump development from degrading permafrost affected the delivery of mercury (Hg) and organic carbon (OC) to lakes. We show that sediments from the lakes with retrogressive thaw slump development on their shorelines (slump-affected lakes) had higher sedimentation rates and lower total Hg (THg), methyl mercury (MeHg), and lower organic carbon concentrations compared to lakes where thaw slumps were absent (reference lakes). There was no difference in focus-corrected Hg flux to sediments between reference lakes and slump-affected lakes, indicating that the lower sediment Hg concentration in slump-affected lakes was due to dilution by rapid inorganic sedimentation in the slump-affected lakes. Sedimentation rates were inversely correlated with THg concentrations in sediments among the 14 lakes considered, and explained 68% of the variance in THg concentration in surface sediment, further supporting the dilution hypothesis. We observed higher S2 (algal-derived carbon) and particulate organic carbon (POC) concentrations in sediment profiles from reference lakes than in slump lakes, likely because of dilution by inorganic siliciclastic matter in cores from slump-affected lakes. We conclude that retrogressive thaw slump development increases inorganic sedimentation in lakes, and decreases concentrations of organic carbon and associated Hg and MeHg in sediments. © 2012 American Chemical Society.


Eickmeyer D.C.,University of Ottawa | Kimpe L.E.,University of Ottawa | Kokelj S.V.,Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program | Pisaric M.F.J.,Carleton University | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences | Year: 2016

Using a comparative spatial analysis of sediment cores from eight lakes in tundra uplands adjacent to the Mackenzie Delta, NT, we examined how the presence of retrogressive thaw slumps on lake shores affected persistent organic pollutant (POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides) accumulation in lake sediments. Sediments of slump-affected lakes contained higher total organic carbon (TOC)-normalized POP concentrations than nearby reference lakes that were unaffected by thaw slumps. Mean focus-corrected inorganic sedimentation rates were positively related to TOC-normalized contaminant concentrations, explaining 58-94% of the variation in POP concentrations in sediment, suggesting that reduced organic carbon in slump-affected lake water results in higher concentrations of POPs on sedimentary organic matter. This explanation was corroborated by an inverse relationship between sedimentary POP concentrations and TOC content of the lake water. Inferred chlorophyll a, S2, and S3 carbon fluxes to sediment were not significantly correlated to POP fluxes. Higher POP concentrations observed in sediment of slump-affected lakes are best explained by simple solvent switching processes of hydrophobic organic contaminants onto a smaller pool of available organic carbon when compared to neighboring lakes unaffected by thaw slump development. ©2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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