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A Monitoring Program to respond to Permafrost Thawing due to Climate Change


Climate change is expected to reshape Canadian permafrost in many ways, which might impact northern infrastructure. A permafrost research and monitoring program was developed in 1984 by multiple federal government agencies and the Norman Wells pipeline operator Enbridge, allowing to gather valuable information about the interaction between the pipeline and permafrost and to compare actual and predicted impacts of climate change on the region. The 25-year-long record of ground temperatures indicates that permafrost is warming, which is consistent with recent increases in air temperature. Other relevant contributions of implementing and executing a collaborative monitoring program include the development of a model for monitoring and follow-up programs. Data sharing among stakeholders and the public is also a key factor to assure knowledge sharing, corporate transparency, and environmental awareness.

Key take-aways

  • Using a collaborative approach for monitoring programs can be an opportunity for information exchange, development of new collaborative projects and cost-sharing.
  • Assuring flexibility on a monitoring program might help to find adaptive solutions to changing regulatory specifications and to dynamic environmental conditions.
  • A long-term monitoring program can contribute to an improved understanding of the regional variations in permafrost response to climate change.

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