Boreal peatlands in the discontinuous permafrost zone of Canada
Dr. David Olefeldt, University of Alberta
Peatlands cover 12% of Canada, and a majority of Canadian peatlands are found in regions with perennially frozen ground, also known as permafrost. The deep, organic soils of peatlands provide insulation from summer heat and can remain frozen in permafrost much further south than other soil types. The presence of permafrost in peatlands profoundly influences the movement of water, which plant species that are present, and the microbial activities in the soil. In my presentation I will show examples of peatlands from the discontinuous permafrost zone in western Canada, and discuss current research questions. With climate warming, most permafrost in peatlands of the discontinuous permafrost zone is likely to thaw in the coming decades. This will impact local communities by changing how you can move in the landscape, where suitable habitat for hunting is found, and the quality of water in downstream rivers and lakes. There are also potential global implications from permafrost thaw, as the release and uptake of greenhouse gases change.