Permafrost is changing as Earth’s climate warms. Across northern Canada, the effects are already apparent: slow-moving landslides threaten highways, buildings are sinking and collapsing, and traditional food sources are threatened. The annual cost of permafrost thaw in the Northwest Territories has been estimated at $51 million.
Because permafrost occurs underground, data about permafrost are difficult and costly to collect. Once they’ve drilled a borehole, scientists insert instruments to record ground temperatures at regular intervals, sometimes collecting measurements every hour. This is exactly the kind of information permafrost modellers need. However, once these data have been used for a particular experiment, they might not be shared in a way that is easily accessible for other researchers. In fact, they may not be shared at all.
In Whitehorse, Panya Lipovsky, a surficial geologist with the Yukon Geological Survey, has been working to create a permafrost database for the Yukon. The effort is part of a Canada-wide trend to make historic permafrost datasets more available.
Earlier this year Nick Brown took Science Borealis‘ Pitch and Polish blog writing course and you can now read his full blog post – The changing landscape of permafrost data on the Science Borealis blog.
Nick Brown is the NSERC PermafrostNet data scientist, where he develops tools to support permafrost simulation and data handling and also promotes the adoption of standards for permafrost data