ALSO: FORMER STUDENTS
Scott Lamoureux (Director, Queen's University) My research is focused on understanding the linkages between climate, hydrology and geomorphology in permafrost landscapes. This research is driven by the need to understand how terrestrial landscapes are sensitive to climate variability and resource development. I initiated the research at Cape Bounty in 2003 and my work has focused on a number of related themes: contemporary fluxes of sediment and particulate organic carbon in the streams; climatic controls over streamflow and sediment transport; the impact of rainfall on catchment processes; sedimentary processes in lakes; varved lake sediments as records of past hydroclimate and landscape disturbance; aquatic ecosystem linkages and subfossil indicators of past ecological change and long term sediment transport dynamics. Current work is directed at understanding the magnitude of sediment fluxes from surfaces that have been disturbed at different times, dendrochronological techniques for dating past slope failures, the influence of snow pack on river processes and runoff generation, the chemical evolution of the lakes in the region and the application of hydrological modelling to watershed and sedimentary processes. Collaborative work currently links stream processes with the transport, characterization and origin of organic carbon in the watersheds. My work contributes to both the overall research program at Cape Bounty, and to the SEDIBUD and ITEX programs.
Melissa Lafreniere (Co-Director, Queen's University) The aim of my research program is to understand how climate induced changes in snow accumulation, snowmelt, and permafrost conditions affect the volume of surface water runoff and the processes responsible for the release of dissolved nutrients (carbon (C) and nitrogen (N)) from High Arctic watersheds. Since two of the primary controls on the export of C and N from the land surface are the volume of surface water runoff and the passage of this water through shallow soils, the effect of climate change on runoff (timing and quantity), permafrost degradation and slope stability, will exert significant influence on the release of C and N from arctic catchments. These research questions will be addressed through detailed measurements of snow accumulation, water runoff, and organic carbon and nitrogen yields from a series of catchments at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory.
Paul Treitz (Queen's University) Remote Sensing for Estimating Biophysical Variables of Arctic Ecosystems: Arctic tundra environments account for a large proportion of Canada's land surface and are therefore important systems within the context of global climate change research. It is expected that any alterations in arctic tundra function associated with increased temperatures will be expressed through shifts in plant phenology and species composition and abundance. Remote sensing provides a means for monitoring these shifts, with the potential to characterize biophysical variables that control carbon fluxes across landscapes. Specifically, we aim to determine the sensitivity of remote sensing spectral indices for estimating biophysical variables for a range of vegetation communities at Cape Bounty, Melville Island. First, the remote sensing and field-based components aim to: i) quantify biomass, biodiversity and species abundance for vegetation communities; and ii) relate field-based measures to spectral indices. If we are able to estimate these biophysical variables accurately (and precisely), and link these to environmental conditions, we can then attempt to model carbon flux for different vegetation communities across the arctic.
Neal Scott (Queen's University) Plant community types in the High Arctic are distributed across the landscape in response to significant variation in soil moisture regimes. Any changes in moisture regimes under future climates could, therefore, lead to changes in the distribution of plant community types. This could alter soil biogeochemical processes that determine whether high-arctic ecosystems lead to a future warming or cooling of the Earth. At Cape Bounty, my students and I are exploring the interactions between different plant community types and soil processes, with particular attention to soil carbon and nitrogen cycling processes that influence net greenhouse gas emissions. We are also exploring how changes in moisture regimes influences soil biogeochemical processes. Ultimately, we want to develop a framework for evaluating the interactions between changes in climate regimes (particularly moisture regimes), plant community composition and distribution, and carbon and nitrogen cycling processes in soils. With this framework, we can evaluate how high-arctic ecosystem will influence the climate system in the future.
Ted Lewis (Queen's University) Near future climate change will likely bring about increased winter snowpack, a thickened active layer, increased precipitation, and increased ice-free conditions on arctic lakes. However, it is not quantitatively known how this will affect river runoff, turbidity, lake sedimentation, and water quality. My research involves using computer models to predict how these changes will affect the Cape Bounty lakes and their watersheds. River discharge, sediment flux, and limnologic data collected at Cape Bounty from 2003-2008 will be used to calibrate the models to modern conditions in the watersheds. Then regional climate model output for climate change scenarios will be used to predict future watershed conditions. Beginning in January 2008, I will be a post-doctoral researcher under the International Polar Year Project. I completed my B.Sc(H). and M.Sc. at Queen’s University, and my Ph.D. at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, primarily studying physical lacustrine processes and annually laminated sedimentary deposits in the Canadian High Arctic.
Johann Wagner (Queen's University) I am interested in the processes of carbon exchange in terrestrial ecosystems at Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory. The warming of the Arctic is expected to increasingly release sequestered carbon, creating a positive feedback, which would hasten global climate change. On the other hand, higher spring and autumn temperatures lead also to a longer growing season and increased plant activity, enhancing therefore carbon sequestration and partially mitigating the effects of global warming. Recent data suggest, however, that elevated autumn temperatures do not lead in arctic ecosystems to an increased carbon uptake, resulting, in fact, in a net carbon loss which might be offsetting up to 90% of the carbon uptake of warm springs. The North American Arctic is subjected to a stronger autumn warming than other circumpolar regions. Cape Bounty is therefore an ideal location to investigate this important question, of whether warmer autumns in the Arctic cancel the effects of an overall increased photosynthesis, question which I aim to answer by the way of field measurements and modelling. My second goal at Cape Bounty is to produce a comprehensive vascular and cryptogam flora, and to investigate other little-researched aspects of the flora and vegetation of the region.
Myrna Simpson (University of Toronto) My research entails molecular-level analysis of natural organic matter found in soils and sediemnts. My research group develops new molecular tools for the analysis of carbon biogeochemical processes on the molecular level. This includes the isolation and analysis of novel organic matter fingerprints (biomakers) by mass spectrometry (MS) and the analysis of organic matter structures using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Our research at Cape Bounty includes the analysis of sediments to determine the source and stage of organic matter oxidation as well as the incorporation of relic carbon by native microbes. We are also examining the use or organic matter biomarkers for the reconstruction of past climatic conditions recorded in Cape Bounty lake sediments.
Achim Beylich (Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), Quaternary Geology and Climate group & Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Geography, Trondheim, Norway) I am a geomorphologist who is mainly interested in contemporary sedimentary fluxes and in the detection and analysis of sediment sources within the catchments. This July I will participate for the first time in the research activities at Cape Bounty. My research will involve carrying out studies on bedload transport using different methods and pre-investigations for planned active layer analysis using geophysical methods (GPR).
Derek Muir (Environment Canada) My research will be studying the bioaccumulation of mercury and other contaminants in the arctic char in the lakes at Cape Bounty. The work will include measurements of mercury and methyl mercury in the food web, water and sediments. The work will be linked to other ongoing studies of mercury in arctic char on Cornwallis Island and Baffin Island currently funded by ArcticNet and IPY. These studies are showing that mercury concentrations a slowly increasing over time in landlocked char. The Cape Bounty site offers the opportunity to more thoroughly investigate the hypothesis that climate warming is delivering more bioavailable mercury to char resulting in increasing trends.
Humphreys (Carleton University) My research focuses on tundra-atmosphere
interactions. We're using the eddy covariance technique to continuously
monitor growing season carbon
dioxide, water vapour and energy fluxes over the tundra at Cape Bounty and at other tundra sites across the Canadian arctic. Terrestrial ecosystems in the arctic are expected to be particularly sensitive to climate change. Changes to the carbon cycle of Canada's vast arctic ecosystems have the potential to have global consequences through feedback effects on climate. Our measurements will help assess how the uptake and release of carbon dioxide is affected by current variations in weather and how these fluxes may change with future warming.
Peter Lafleur (Trent University) My research focuses on tundra-atmosphere exchanges of carbon dioxide, heat and water vapour, their magnitude and variation and the influence of controlling factors such as climate and vegetation phenology.
Andre Simpson (University of Toronto) My research aims to develop novel analytical spectroscopy-based methods to investigate the reactivity, structures, and associations of molecules or groups of molecules in the environment. In analytical environmental chemistry dealing with very complex naturally occurring mixtures is unavoidable yet there is a lack of spectroscopic approaches available or in development that can provide crucial, molecular-level information desperately required to fully understand global environmental processes. Complex systems such as soils, marine sediments and atmospheric particles are routinely treated as “black boxes”. My research specifically focuses on the development of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy, and its hyphenation with other, analytical methods. NMR spectroscopy is the single most powerful analytical technique for the analysis of organic structures. NMR can provide the basic chemical structures present in a mixture as well as information to the self-associations of molecules (aggregation and flocculation processes), their interactions with xenobiotics (transport of contaminants) and provide the direct connection between molecular-scale processes (environments of individual nuclei) and macromolecular systems. However despite its potential, NMR is severely underused in environmental chemistry, mainly due to lack of experiments presently available that can provide information on very complex mixtures and heterogeneous samples. In addition, the lack of data analysis methods that can extract specific information in a timely and user friendly fashion also prohibits the universal application of NMR spectroscopy to the environmental sciences. Consequently, a great deal of development is needed with respect the methods for acquiring quality NMR data for highly complex heterogeneous materials and the subsequent interpretation of this data.
Vince St. Louis (University of Alberta) My overall research program focuses on understanding the natural biogeochemical cycling of elements in the environment, and the human disruptions of these cycles. For the past 25 years, I have been a collaborator in whole-ecosystem experimentation at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, examining the environmental impacts of acid rain, reservoir creation, and mercury emissions. Recently we began determining why some high and sub Arctic marine animals and freshwater fishes contain concentrations of monomethyl mercury (an organic and toxic form of mercury) high enough to cause exposure risks to northern peoples consuming them as traditional foods.
Greg Henry (University of British Columbia) Research interests are centred on community and autecology of arctic plants, especially causes and consequences of biodiversity change; climate-plant relationships and the effects the climate change; succession after deglaciation; and the range ecology of arctic ungulates.
Pierre Francus (Institut national de la recherche scientifique - Centre Eau, Terre & Environnement) My research interests aim to study the physical limnology of modern and past lacustrine systems in order to reconstruct the paleoclimate and paleoenvironments beyond the instrumental period. I’m mostly interested in the study of varved (annually laminated) sediments mainly from Arctic regions. In this project, I intend to analyse short and long cores using to cutting edge techniques designed to retrieve data for each year. The first one is an image analysis technique of thin-section of soft sediments that allow the measurement of grain size and other parameters of single sedimentary events, such as a flood. The second is a new µ-fluorescence scanner that allows the non-destructive and automated chemical analysis with a resolution up to 0.1 mm. In close collaboration with the members of the CBAWO, I hope to reconstruct the hydroclimatic condtions for the last 4000 years with an annual resolution. A comparison with other records of the Canadian Arctic is also planned to understand the modes of variability of the Arctic climate.
Linda Lamoureux (School Outreach Educator, Elementary Teacher, Martello School, Kingston) I create exciting and engaging science activities and experiments based on the research occuring at Cape Bounty. The activities allow elementary students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 to reproduce some of the experiments and observations that the Cape Bounty researchers carry out while in the field and in the laboratory in order to help the students to understand results of the experiments, inquire about scientific method and share their knowledge of the land and environment. During the school year I have visited Qarmartalik School, Resolute Bay, Nunavut to share the activities that have been created with elementary students. The students, teachers and residents of Resolute Bay have welcomed our outreach program and we look forward to many future visits.
Krys Chutko (Research Associate, Queen's University) I am investigating the biogeochemical cycles, signals and patterns observed in lake sedimentary records at CBAWO. Through the use of a variety of analytical and statistical methods, complex biologic, chemical, and clastic sedimentation patterns can be observed, classified and quantified. The goal of this research is to expand the understanding of complex sediment records (e.g., beyond the simple winter-summer varve couplet) and to attribute their formation to a combination of physical, chemical and biologic sources. Recent investigations by EVEX lab members have found a surprising diversity of lake sediment types in the Arctic, and understanding how these unusual and complex records relate to environmental change is of growing interest. When not in the EVEX lab, I teach Climate & Atmospheric Change at Carleton University.
Kailey Stewart (Queen's University) My research focuses on the sensitivity of arctic freshwater ecosystems to hydroclimate variability and change. A critical component of my research are the fossil remains of diatoms, a class of unicellular algae that dominate high arctic freshwater ecosystems. Since many diatom species respond to changing environmental conditions (e.g., nutrient levels) in a sensitive and predictable way, arctic aquatic ecosystem sensitivity to hydroclimate variability may be assessed from diatom fossils in lake sediments and the information they provide on hydrochemical conditions from the time of their growth. The sensitivity of diatoms to hydroclimate variability will be tested through comparison with independently inferred hydroclimate records, including varve (annual sediment accumulation) thickness measurements and local meteorological records. In addition, sedimentary biogeochemical (e.g., lipids) profiles will be constructed to examine the possibility that changes in terrestrial and aquatic organic contributions might provide additional information on recent hydroclimate variability. The resulting record will shed light on the possible trajectories of High Arctic aquatic ecosystems to projected hydroclimate scenarios.
Gwen Woods (University of Toronto) My research interests focus on the structural elucidation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) as well as degradation processes occurring within the natural environment. The collection of DOM samples from two watersheds in the High Arctic along with a neighboring coastal sample will be used to follow structural changes of DOM through the watersheds and into the ocean as well as enable the unique opportunity to examine an aquatic system wherein degradative influences are significantly reduced. The structural elucidation of complex, unknown mixtures such as DOM requires advanced analytical techniques. Hyphenated Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) systems are designed to tackle such analytical hurdles by way of separation into more homogenous fractions prior to NMR analysis. Structural analyses will be determined via NMR, 2D-Liquid Chromatograph (2D-LC), and ultimately 2D-LC-Solid Phase Extraction-NMR.
Adam Collingwood(Queen's University) The objectives of Adam’s research are to determine the influence of multi-polarimetric RADARSAT-2 SAR data on soil moisture and vegetation analysis; to better understand and separate the interacting effects of soil moisture, vegetation, and topography on SAR backscatter values; and to determine soil moisture and vegetation distribution across an Arctic watershed. Adam's PhD supervisor is Dr. Paul Treitz.
David Atkinson (Queen's University) My research aims to quantify biomass and predict carbon flux for two disparate arctic landscapes along a latitudinal gradient by relating field-based community measures of biomass, cover, and carbon flux to satellite-based reflectance measures and derivatives (i.e., spectral indices)
Lynne Bosquet (Queen's University) My research focuses
on how High Arctic vegetation responds to environmental change. This will
be accomplished by studying the effect of physical disturbance and climatological
change on tundra vegetation. My first research goal is to study plant growth
and succession following major physical disturbance. Vegetation was studied
at old (pre-1950) and young (occurred in 2007) active layer detachments
to assess the initial and long-term effect of these disturbances. My second
goal is to study the effect of climatological changes on vegetation, using
the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) site established at Cape Bounty.
The ITEX site consists of a series of snow-fences and clear open-top chambers
that will selectively increase moisture and air temperature over the tundra.
Through the comparison of vegetation at experimental and control sites,
the effects of these changes can be quantified. Together, these studies
will give a greater understanding of the potential impact of future environmental
change on High Arctic vegetation.
Hilary Dugan (Queen's University) I am interested in studying hydrological and limnological processes in Arctic watersheds. My master's project will focus on the chemical evolution of morphologically similar freshwater and hypersaline coastal lakes. Isolated from the ocean during the Holocene, many coastal lakes of the Canadian High Arctic archipelago have since evolved into freshwater systems or, on occasion, become hypersaline. The mechanisms behind the different evolutionary paths in these lakes are poorly understood and continue to be enigmatic. Working at Cape Bounty, and Shellabear Point on Melville Island, my goal is to distinguish the chemical processes acting on the different lakes in order to understand how the systems have developed through time.
Maryse Veillette (Queen's University) I am interested in studying the fluvial geomorphology of Arctic rivers. My research will focus on how West River has adjusted to active layer detachments (ALD) which were initiated in 2007. The sediment distribution in the river will be studied to identify areas of net erosion and storage by analyzing the amount of sediment entering and exiting various reaches which will be associated with a specific disturbance. This will link the effect that the disturbances have had on the sediment fluxes along the river. The evolution of the channel through time will additionally be studied by comparing aerial photographs and satellite images collected between 1950 and 2009. Emphasis will be on changes in channel width and shape prior to 2007 to allow for a better understanding of the evolution of the channel under undisturbed conditions. These rates of change will then be compared to the response of the channel since 2007 in order to determine if disturbances have accelerated dimensional and geomorphic changes to the river channel. With permafrost disturbances occurring more regularly, it is important to understand how river morphology and sediment fluxes and storage are affected in order to better infer future fluvial behaviour.
Alison Cassidy (Queen's University) I am studying vegetation
in Arctic environments. My master’s project will focus on the vegetation
characteristics of active layer detachments of varying ages. Examining the
process of revegetation over time provides a way to determine how vegetation
responds to change. I plan on using air photographs to identify old active
layer detachments, and compare these to more recent disturbances. I am also
using remote sensing to determine if active layer detachments display a
distinct spectral signature and how this signature changes as the vegetation
in the detachments recovers from initial disturbance. This can then be linked
to on the ground analysis of vegetation, to analyze the spectral characteristics
of differing vegetation.
Emil Laurin (Queen's University) My research interests are in environmental impacts on stream and river water quality. I am looking at how climate change and geomorphic disturbances in the Arctic will alter natural fluxes of carbon and nitrogen from headwater streams. Global climate change is predicted to increase precipitation and snow accumulation in the High Arctic. I am conducting an experiment with artificially increased snow accumulation in small watersheds to determine how it will influence biogeochemical processes and nutrient fluxes. The Cape Bounty watershed has experienced several active layer slope detachments due to higher than normal summer temperature and precipitation in 2007. These are natural occurrences in permafrost environments but could increase in frequency due to climate trends. I will be studying how these active layer slope detachments alter the stream chemistry of the headwater catchments in which they occurred.
James Fletcher (Queen's University) My research is focused on understanding the nature of particulate organic material found in stream water from two watersheds located at Cape Bounty, on the south coast of Melville Island, Nunavut. While both catchments are similar in terms of size, topography, vegetative cover, and surficial geology, recent disturbances in one of the watersheds have increased the amount of particulate suspended in stream water. Through the use of innovative sampling methods, I hope to gain an understanding of both the quantity and character of this material. The organic portion of the particulate will be analyzed using standard loss on ignition techniques and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This work represents a new component of the comprehensive hydrological study that has been underway at Cape Bounty since 2003.
Anthony Bassutti (Queen's University) I adopted the EVEX Lab as my second home in 2008 when I became a Research Assistant. I decided to stick around, and continue to assist the EVEX crew in the field and laboratory. My past undergraduate research project was examining the feasibility of using Salix arctica (Arctic Willow) for dendrochronological studies. More specifically, the possible use of S. arctica to date permafrost disturbances in the High Arctic where little record exists. My current research is examining the feasibility of using a device to trap sediment transported by a density underflow in a lake. Currently, no feasible method exists to determine the amount and timing of sediment inflowing horizontally along the bottom of a lake from an input river.
Fiona Gregory (Queen's University) Fiona is studying the relationships between soil moisture, soil nutrient regime, carbon flux, spectral response, and vegetation community type. Her focus is on how these factors change throughout the growing season, and how information gained from field observations can be scaled up using multitemporal high resolution remotely sensed images. Fiona is co-supervised by Dr. Paul Treitz and Dr. Neal Scott.
Allison Neil (Queen's University) I am a fourth year geography student interested in earth system science and how natural processes respond to environmental change. I am especially interested in pedology, the realm of soils, because soils play an important role in ecosystem development, as well as climate change, through interaction with the atmosphere. My project looks at how soil gas exchange is affected by recent mass movements in three small watersheds. I am particularly interested in how disturbance intensity (undisturbed, moderately disturbed and highly disturbed) influences soil trace gas (CO2, N2O, CH4) emissions. Results from my work will provide insights into how ecosystem function might change in a future warmer, wetter world.
Eva Fisher (Queen's University)
Nunavut Research Institute
Polar Continental Shelf Project
Hamlet of Resolute