Climate change hazard mapping project completed in Yukon
September 13, 2016
Researchers from the Yukon Research Centre’s Northern Climate ExChange have completed a six-year project developing climate change hazards maps in seven Yukon communities. These maps are an important planning tool in helping communities adapt to a changing climate.
The stoplight-coloured maps identify the levels of risk associated with permafrost thaw, landslides, and flooding in the communities of Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay, Pelly Crossing, Mayo, Faro, Ross River, Dawson City, and Old Crow. These communities were included in the project as they are underlain by permafrost at risk of thaw in a changing climate.
“These hazard maps not only identify areas that are low, medium or high-risk for landscape hazards, but they help communities plan for the economic implications that may come with building or maintaining infrastructure in specific regions”, said Louis Philippe Roy, Permafrost Scientist, Northern Climate ExChange. “The more scientific information we have the better we can prepare for change”.
Hazard maps can be used by communities and First Nations as part of local planning processes, and are also useful for engineers, planners, consultants, and all levels of governmental and non-governmental decision-makers.
Hazards maps are created through detailed assessment of landscape features, including the development of new surficial geology maps, the examination of air photos, and the use of ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistivity tomography, and drilling permafrost cores to characterize permafrost.
“This project was a great success because we built a team of experts that included not only Yukon College scientists but scientists from Yukon governmental departments and from universities across Canada”, said Dr. Bronwyn Benkert, Manager, Northern Climate ExChange. “We worked collaboratively with First Nations governments and municipalities so that we could deliver a product that would work best for the needs of each community”.
Hazards maps produced through this project are already being used in community-level decision-making. For example, the maps have been used by Kluane First Nation to assist with land use planning, and by the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board in the assessment of land development applications in the Dawson City region.”
The research team consisted of members of the Yukon Geological Survey and the universities of Ottawa and Montreal, with student field assistants working with the research team during the field season. The University of Alberta was also a partner in this project.
Funding for this project came from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada through the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP). CCAP supports Aboriginal and northern communities to address the risks and challenges posed by the impacts of climate change. Project partners also made in-kind contributions to the project.
For more information on this project, please visit our website.
The Northern Climate ExChange is one of six key programs that operate under the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College. The others include: Biodiversity Monitoring, Cold Climate Innovation, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Mine Life Cycle, and Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic, and Technology Innovation.