Department of geography, Université de Montréal
520, Chemin de la Côte Ste-Catherine
Université de Montréal
514.343.6111 extension 37175
Geomorphology and hydrology of Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut
Ward Hunt Island (83,1°N 74,1° W) is located a few kilometers off the north coast of Ellesmere Island. It harbours the northernmost lake in Canada, Ward Hunt Lake, which has been the target of research at the CEN since the late 1990’s. It is now home to a permanent CEN laboratory, making it the northernmost research station in Canada. Most of the studies on this site have been concerned with biology and limnology, with limited knowledge on geomorphological setting. This research is concerned with the geomorphological and hydrological organization of the Ward Hunt Lake watershed, since these are the main controls on sediment and water transfer toward the ultra-oligotrophic lake.
Slope evolution and mass transfer are essentially driven by water movement along the slopes. That is why this research focuses on slope hydrology and sediment transfer as solutes, suspended sediments and mass movement in the watershed. We are also particularly interested in the role of morphology and micro-morphology over the formation of preferential flow pathways, such as rills and water tracks. The latter, a type of subsurface flowpath, occupy a large section of the lower slopes and seem to play a major role. The objectives of this study are to :
-Identify and characterize flowpaths according to their respective hydrogeochemistry, morphology and hydrology.
-Create a theoretical model of water track development and understand their role for downslope mass transfer.
-Determine mass movement rates due to solifluction on the shores of Ward Hunt Lake.
Hydrological surveys are conducted, including precipitation, snowmelt and runoff measurements as well as the quantification of suspended and solute transport. These measurement are performed for each type of stream, and are compared in order to analyze the role of water tracks in mass transfer. The role of water tracks as drainage and moisture-distributing feature is also investigated by monitoring subsurface humidity and water table depth. Mass movements on the slopes are measured by precise marker surveys.
We expect nivation niche and patterned grounds to be the principal drivers for the rise of soil humidity and the presence and channeling of surface and subsurface runoff, and these are therefore very important for downslope mass transport. These forms have a high incidence on landscape denudation and have a strong value when considering its evolution, as well as the effects on lake characteristics. This research is a very rare account of sediment transport and slope evolution in the High Arctic and an important step towards understanding watershed-lake interactions in Ward Hunt Lake watershed.
Paquette, M., Fortier, D., Vincent, W.F., 2018. Hillslope water tracks in the High Arctic: Seasonal flow dynamics with changing water sources in preferential flow paths. Hydrological Processes, 32(8): 1077-1089. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.11483.
Paquette, M., Fortier, D., Vincent, W.F., 2017. Water tracks in the High Arctic: A hydrological network dominated by rapid subsurface flow through patterned ground. Arctic Science, 3(2): 334-353. DOI: 10.1139/AS-2016-0014.
Verpaelst, M., Fortier, D., Kanevskiy, M., Paquette, M., Shur, Y., 2017. Syngenetic dynamic of permafrost of a polar desert solifluction lobe, Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut. Arctic Science, 3(2): 301-319. DOI: 10.1139/AS-2016-0018.
Fritz, M., Deshpande, B., Bouchard, F., Högström, E., Malenfant Lepage, J., Morgenstern, A., Nieuwendam, A., Oliva, M., Paquette, M., Rudy, A.C.A., Siewert, M.B., Sjöberg, Y., Weege, S., 2015. Brief Communication: Future avenues for permafrost science from the perspective of early career researchers. The Cryosphere, 9: 1715–1720. DOI: 10.5194/tc-9-1715-2015.
Paquette, M., Fortier, D., Mueller, D.R., Sarrazin, D., Vincent, W.F., 2015. Rapid disappearance of perennial ice on Canada's most northern lake. Geophysical Research Letters, 42: 1433-1440. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062960.