Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Geography & Environmental Studies
Faculty of Science
Northwestern Canada’s subarctic is among the most impacted regions in the world as it is experiencing rapid climatic and environmental change. As a result, northwestern Canada has been experiencing region-wide permafrost thaw and disappearance, both of which are also occurring at unprecedented rates. Permafrost temperatures in the Taiga Plains have been warming steadily over the last several decades, which has been particularly detrimental across its lower latitudes of the discontinuous permafrost zone where the permafrost is already relatively thin and warm. These factors indicate that permafrost in the southern Taiga Plains may be in a state of disequilibrium with the current climate.
Permafrost degradation has important implications for wide-ranging boreal peatland landscapes and the associated local hydrology and ecology. Decreases in the area underlain by permafrost in these peatland complexes has resulted in a transformation from permafrost and forest-dominated landscapes to those that are wetland dominated. However, permafrost-free forested areas have also been observed following the loss of permafrost and the gradual drying and succession of the previously treeless bog landscape. This research first seeks to explore the trajectory of peatland landcover change following permafrost thaw by identifying unique landcovers that represent different thaw stages. Next, this research works to monitor peatland-dominated environments across the southernmost portion of the Taiga Plains by using near-annual imagery to quantify landcover changes that may be representative of permafrost thaw. Finally, this research aims to encapsulate the factors that contribute to permafrost presence or absence by proposing a permafrost index map across the southern Taiga Plains.
Carpino, Olivia, "The dynamic relationship between permafrost and landcover in northwestern Canada’s discontinuous permafrost zone" (2023). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2548.
Available for download on Thursday, April 18, 2024