Abstract

Variations in ground thermal regime were studied over a small area in the east-central part of the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories, about 50 km northwest of Inuvik. Vegetation shows a successional sequence related to river migration and there is a complex interaction between vegetation, topography, and microclimate.Measurements from five sites show that significant differences in thermal regime exist beneath various types of vegetation. There is a general decrease in mean annual ground temperatures with increasing vegetation. The mean annual air temperature in this area is −9 °to −10 °C, but microclimatic factors lead to mean surface temperatures of between 0 °C and −4.2 °C.In summer, variations in net radiation account for the differences in ground thermal regime at the three sites on the slip-off slope. At the other two sites a surface layer of moss and peat leads to small values in ground heat flux and is instrumental in maintaining lower temperatures there. Removal of 10 cm of organic material at one site led to an increase of 3 °C in the mean daily 10 cm temperature.In winter, on the slip-off slope, variations in snow accumulation lead to ground temperature variations greater than those due to vegetation per se. Spatial variation of about 20 °C in ground surface temperature was measured in March 1970; during July and August 1970 the maximum spatial variation observed was only 10 °C. Differences of up to 6 °C in 1 m temperatures were measured over a distance of only 12 m. Snow cover is a permafrost-controlling factor in this area; where accumulations are greatest a talik has formed due to the insulating effect of deep snow.

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