Permafrost mapping – A&B Above and Beyond

“Elders in the community are concerned about what they see happening in the environment,” says Margaret Ireland, Resource Management Coordinator at Jean Marie River First Nation. “They see trees falling over; they feel the Mackenzie River warming, and they notice the river fish have softer flesh.”

As well, the distinct frost heaves called palsas — mounds of permafrost soil that once towered up to six metres — have collapsed. Some have even disappeared.

The palsas acted as landmarks for wayfinding, so changes like this have impacted the way people navigate while hunting, trapping, and harvesting on their traditional lands.

First-hand knowledge of changes in the landscape, borne from a connection to the area that reaches back many generations, is key to an ongoing Yukon College research project that identifies areas of permafrost vulnerability in northern communities.

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