Environmental Monitoring and Research

Broad Scale Aufeis Mapping in the Northwest Territories

Online pre-recorded


T.P. Ensom (Presenting)
Department of Lands, GNWT; Wilfrid Laurier University
I. de Grandpré
Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT
S.V. Kokelj
Northwest Territories Geological Survey, GNWT
T. Gingras-Hill
Wilfrid Laurier University

Aufeis, commonly known as icings, are accumulations of layered ice that form during winter on the ground surface or on top of river or lake ice by the freezing of successive flows of groundwater or surface water. These features can be present in seasonal frost environments, but are most likely to occur in permafrost regions where frozen ground acts as an impermeable barrier to the movement of deep or shallow groundwater. Recurrent large aufeis features are of particular interest for groundwater investigations, as they are often related to groundwater discharge locations. Aufeis distribution can also inform studies of permafrost distribution and associations with landscape geomorphology.

Several initiatives in the past decade have mapped aufeis features at regional scales using satellite imagery. The objective of the current project is to refine the methodology previously developed to identify large recurrent aufeis at a broad spatial scale in NWT using Landsat imagery. The outputs of the project will be of interest from a groundwater perspective as they have the potential to indicate spatial patterns of groundwater resurgence, identify relevant groundwater monitoring locations, and provide a useful tool to follow the evolution of permafrost and groundwater dynamics in the context of climate change. Project outcomes are also anticipated to support current broad scale mapping of permafrost landforms, thermokarst features, and related geohazards in the NWT.