Impact of land cover disturbance on permafrost landscapes: Case Studies from Yukon communities

November 5, 2015 in Conference

As part of the 7th Canadian Permafrost Conference and the 68th Canadian Geotechnical Conference (GEOQuébec 2015) held in Quebec City last September, Louis-Phillippe Roy (Yukon College) presented three case studies from our work done in Yukon communities in recent years. We found that the complete removal of vegetation cover for agriculture or mining activities had a strong impact on permafrost degradation. However, selective cutting of forested areas to prevent the propagation of forest fires had little impact, if any, on the underlying permafrost. Louis-Philippe presented during the Northern Communities session chaired by Martin Tremblay, on Wednesday September 23rd. The summary of the paper appears below, as well as links to access the presentation and the full paper.


Figure 1: Main conclusions from the three case-studies


Using examples from three case studies in Yukon communities, we investigate the role of anthropogenic disturbance on permafrost landscapes. Landscape modifications investigated include alternations to surface vegetation for fire protection adjacent to communities, and land clearing to support economic activities like surface mining and agriculture. In most cases, the removal of protective vegetative cover resulted in permafrost degradation, leading to the development of near-surface taliks over decadal-scale time periods. Conversely, light alteration to vegetative cover (e.g., stand thinning for fire protection) does not appear to have altered permafrost presence or distribution. Results have implications for community-scale land use planning in the context of a changing climate.

Presentation (Slideshow)

Paper (PDF)


Imminent Geocryolab team takeoff to Ward Hunt Island!

July 8, 2015 in post

July 21st 2015, a team from Geocryolab composed of Daniel Fortier (director), Michel Paquette (Ph. D. candidate) and Gautier Davesne (Ph. D. candidate) will fly to Ward Hunt Island (Nunavut) for a 3 weeks session fieldwork.

Since 2011, the Geocryolab conducted studies in this unique site to understand the morphology of the Ward Hunt lake watershed. The focus has been on hill slope morphology and on mass/energy transfer dynamics between the land and the lake (For more details, see the projects of M. Paquette and M. Verpaelst).

The 2015 fieldwork will consist of collecting the final data for M. Paquette’s project and new data for G. Davesne and F. Bouchard (post-doc) respective projects.

The objectives are:

  1.  to make GPR surveys on the slopes and the shores of the lake, especially in the deltaic areas, in order to acquire an imagery of the ground layering and discontinuities;
  2. to collect bathymetric data to develop high resolution 3 D map of the lake-bottom morphology;
  3. to extract lake-sediments cores in the deeper zones of the lake in order to date the sediment sequences using physico-chemical, biological and sedimentary proxies;
  4. to extract ground-sediment cores on the slopes and the shore of the lake in order to analyze the physical and geotechnical properties (grain size, thaw settlement);
  5. to continue the survey of water track for their geomorphological, physical, thermal and geochemical characteristics.

Ward Hunt Island in July 2012 (Photo: M. Paquette)

Geocryolab at the AGU Joint Assembly 2015 in Montreal

May 6, 2015 in @en, post

This week took place in Montreal the Joint Assembly of the AGU-GAC-MAC-CGU.

Daniel Fortier, Etienne Godin and Fred Bouchard presented yesterday a session (oral and poster) entitled Dynamics of Permafrost Regions in a Warming World: Processes, Landforms, Biogeosystems I.


Program of the session “Dynamics of Permafrost Regions in a Warming World: Processes, Landforms, Biogeosystems I”

During this session, Manuel Verpaelst presented his MSc project on Mass Movement by solifluction and Syngenetic Dynamic of Permafrost in the High Arctic, Ward Hunt Island, Canadian High Arctic.

Lyna Lapointe Elmrabti, Sabine Veuille and Katerine Grandmont each presented a poster during the Joint Assembly on the following subjects :

Lyna: Paleoenvironmental records from alaskan Late Pleistocene yedoma permafrost : A case study from the Itkillik river

Sabine: Quantifying Heat Advection by Groundwater Flow in the Active Layer: Laboratory

Katerine: Simulations et Impact of Land Cover Disturbances on Permafrost Landscapes in Yukon, Case Studies.

For more information and the complete notices, consult the full program of the conference HERE.

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Sabine V presenting her porster – AGU Montreal 2015

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Katerine G presenting her poster – AGU Montreal 2015


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Etienne G, Sabine V et Manuel V – AGU Montreal 2015


Congratulations to Lyna Lapointe Elmrabti and Gautier Davesne who have won a prize for their speeches at the research day of graduate students in geography of the Université de Montréal (Géodiversité).

April 15, 2015 in post

Lyna, M.Sc. student, supervised by Julie Talbot and co-supervised by Daniel Fortier, presented her research on the apparent climate and ecological change during the late Pleistocene in northern Alaska (Itkillik River Yedoma). Lyna won the prize for best science outreach awarded by the Fonds d’investissement des cycles supérieurs de l’Université de Montréal (FISCUM).

Gautier, M.Sc. student, supervised by Daniel Fortier, presented his work on the spatio-temporal evolution of the marginal alpine permafrost body on the Chic-Chocs Mountains. Gautier won the prize for best oral presentation in physical geography awarded by the Association des Étudiant(e)s des cycles supérieurs en Géographie de l’Université de Montréal (AÉÉCSGUM).

A merit scholarship for Gautier Davesne!

March 26, 2015 in post

Congratulations to Gautier Davesne for obtaining a merit scholarship granted by the Faculté des études supérieures et postdoctorales (FESP) of the University of Montreal in recognition of his excellent academic record.

Gautier, member of the Geocryolab, is currently completing his M.Sc. under the supervision of Daniel Fortier. His research focuses on the understanding of the spatio-temporal evolution of the marginal alpine permafrost in the Chic-Chocs Mountains in the Gaspé Peninsula (Quebec). His thesis is to be done by the end of the spring!

Good luck with this final sprint!




Forum Environnement – University of Montreal – October 2014

December 30, 2014 in Conference

On October 31 was held the first edition of the Forum Environnement regrouping the Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geography and Physics departments of the University of Montreal. Read the rest of this entry →

EnviroNorth scholarship for Andréanne Beardsell

December 18, 2014 in post

Andréanne just received a scholarship for her research project on Bylot Island!

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Frédéric Bouchard at “Les années lumière” (Radio-Canada)

November 3, 2014 in post

Frédéric Bouchard, post-doctoral fellow at the Geocryolab, talks about glaciations in a series of 3 audio clips on the show «Les années lumière» at Radio-Canada!

Next clip: Next Sunday between 12h10 – 14h

It is also possible to replay the clips by visiting Radio-Canada’s website:


Andréanne Beardsell: Biologist and movie maker

October 20, 2014 in @en, Article, post-en, video

 Geocryolab’s Andréanne Beardsell  is a truly exceptional biology graduate student who managed to integrate geomorphological hazard processes into the analysis of rough-legged hawk nesting conditions.
She’s also a great movie maker…check the movie of her summer 2014 on Bylot Island, Nunavut.

Prix Roger J.E. Brown décerné à Daniel Fortier et Isabelle de Grandpré

October 16, 2014 in post

Daniel Fortier, directeur du Geocryolab, et Isabelle de Grandpré, professionelle de recherche, ont reçu le mois dernier à Regina le prestigieux Prix Roger J.E Brown attribué par la Société canadienne de géotechnique. Félicitations!

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