Nunavut Permafrost Monitoring Network

Between 2008 and 2010, the Government of Nunavut (GN) collaborated with Natural Resources Canada and 10 Nunavut communities to install permafrost monitoring sites across Nunavut.

These sites are currently generating ongoing information on the thermal conditions of the ground to depths of 15 metres. This will provide baseline information required for engineering design and community planning. It will also help our understanding of the response of permafrost to changes in climate.

As well, these sites contribute to a larger National Permafrost Monitoring Network with the goal of increasing the knowledge of current conditions across Canada’s permafrost region and building a baseline against which to measure change.

Learn more about the Permafrost Monitoring Network here. 

Why Worry About Permafrost?

Permafrost is central to the northern landscape. It underlies every Nunavut community as well as all the vital systems that keep those communities alive. The challenges presented by permafrost and the ground ice it contains have led to the development of many techniques as engineers and designers seek to prevent or avoid thawing the ice-rich soil. 

Climate change presents yet another challenge: its effects may include additional thawing of permafrost over time. This thawing could seriously impact the stability of existing infrastructure. It is a special concern for structures that are expected to have a long operating life, or for systems where failure would have a high impact, such as waste containment facilities, supply roads and runways. 

Being aware of the current permafrost conditions—including its thermal state, or temperature—is essential for informed land-use planning and engineering design. It is even more important as we develop adaptation strategies to deal with the impacts of climate change.