Newswise — Boulder, Colo., USA - In bitter cold regions like northwestern Canada, permafrost has preserved relict ground-ice and vast glacial sedimentary stores in a quasi-stable state. These landscapes therefore retain a high potential for climate-driven transformation.

In their open-access GEOLOGY article published online on 7 Feb. 2017, Steven Kokelj of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey and colleagues write that climate-driven renewal of deglaciation and potential postglacial permafrost landscape evolution has major implications for predicting the nature and trajectories of northern landscape change and the cascade of downstream impacts.

They show that mapping across 1.27 million square kilometers of northwestern Canada points to large thaw-induced slope disturbances (thaw slumps) that delineate the margins of former ice sheets. Recent intensification of this thaw slumping has mobilized primary glacial sediments, triggering a cascade of fluvial, lacustrine, and coastal effects.



Climate-driven thaw of permafrost preserved glacial landscapes, northwestern Canada Geology, doi: 10.1130/G38626.1, OPEN ACCESS,

Authors: Steven V. Kokelj, Northwest Territories Geological Survey, Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT), Box 1320, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9, Canada; Trevor C. Lantz, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Box 1700, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2, Canada; Jon Tunnicliffe, School of Environment, University of Auckland, Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; Rebecca Segal, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Box 1700, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2, Canada; and Denis Lacelle, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Ottawa, 60 University, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada

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Journal Link: Geology, doi: 10.1130/G38626.1