Researcher: Anna Coles, PhD, postdoctoral researcher (2017/18)
Supervisor: Jennifer Baltzer, Laurier
My work encompasses several projects focused on understanding the mechanisms of climate-driven environmental change across geological, permafrost and climatic gradients of the NWT through using high-resolution remote sensing products for permafrost change detection in the North Slave and Sahtú, and an analysis of climate-change-driven environmental changes and geohazard occurrence around the NWT’s 33 communities. We are also working to understand how permafrost thaw is affecting boreal tree water uptake regimes using stable water isotope analysis, and understanding flood risk from both ice jam and rainfall events in eight NWT communities to identify research and monitoring needs for effective prediction. This work will provide outputs useful for the implementation of effective, community-specific climate change adaptation measures.
Researcher: Christoforos Pappas, PhD postdoctoral researcher (2015–present)
My research focuses on monitoring boreal tree water use and functional traits to better characterize tree-level carbon, water and energy dynamics. We have initialized field observations of tree water use and leaf functional traits at five boreal forest sites along a 2,000km latitudinal climate and permafrost gradient, from permafrost-free, sporadic, discontinuous to continuous permafrost. This allows us to obtain quantitative insights of boreal tree functioning and plasticity to different environmental conditions. This work allows for a detailed quantification of boreal tree inter- and intra-specific variability and a better understanding of boreal forest resilience and plasticity to ongoing environmental changes.
Researcher: Bo Qu, PhD candidate (2017–present)
Supervisor: Oliver Sonnentag, supervisor, Université de Montréal
We are studying boreal forest productivity estimates for northwestern Canada by improving the land surface component of the Canadian Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (CTEM), coupled to the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS). This work primarily involves stand-level testing and refining the current model against ecosystem carbon, water and energy fluxes from different permafrost-free (southern old black spruce and southern old jack pine) and permafrost (Scotty Creek) boreal forest sites across northwestern Canada. This work would reduce the current uncertainties and challenges in quantifying the multiple effects of climate change on the boreal forest and help forest managers develop effective strategies to adapt to the impending changes.
Researcher: Mickey Nielsen, BSc (2015–18), MSc (starting January 2019)
Supervisor: Scott Smith (Laurier)
It is well established that specific water chemistry of a lake can influence the toxic effects of metals; in particular, the presence of dissolved organic matter (DOM) can decrease the toxicity of copper, nickel, lead and zinc. This effect can quantitatively be predicted using established biotic ligand models (BLMs). Many governments recommend use of BLM approaches for establishing site-specific water quality criteria or for risk assessment, but many lack the ability to consistently and accurately measure dissolved organic carbon (DOC). It may be possible to use remote sensing to measure the colour associated with dissolved organic matter (CDOM) if we can convert measurements of CDOM to a prediction of DOC in freshwater environments. We are studying remote, unimpacted lakes using both drone- and satellite-based remote sensing methods to compare estimated CDOM to metals risk estimates and to actual measured effect concentrations in samples of these same site waters. The comparison will allow us to assess the feasibility and practicality of remote sensing as a tool for metals, including copper, zinc, lead and nickel, risk assessment for current and future mineral extraction or waste disposal activities in the NWT and other cold regions.
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