TRAIL VALLEY CREEK
Arctic Research Station
Understanding and predicting environmental changes across the Western Canadian Arctic
The Trail Valley Creek Research Station is located 50 km north of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Research started at this site in 1991 and operates from April to September. Trail Valley Creek drains 58 km^2 of tundra, with patches of shrubs and boreal forest, and is underlain by ice-rich continuous permafrost. This area is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth, with local records indicating rapid warming at over twice the global average. This rapid warming of near surface air temperatures is expected to result in melting of ground ice and increased permafrost thaw, expansion of shrubs into tundra regions, thinner snow covers that are melting earlier in the spring, and changes in runoff. Research at Trail Valley Creek is complemented by observations at the Havikpak Creek research watershed, which is located 50 km to the south contained within the boreal forest.
The Trail Valley Creek Research Station is headed by Professor Philip Marsh of Geography and Environment Studies, Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science. operations and long-term climate monitoring stations were transferred from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in 2014 where it is currently operated by the Arctic Hydrology Research Group (AHRG) led by Dr. Marsh. Due to the rapid changes in this environment, there is an urgent need on the part of territorial and federal government agencies, NGOs, Indigenous communities and industry to understand how the changing climate is impacting their shared water resources and ecosystems now and in the future, and to transfer this knowledge to all Canadians. Trail Valley Creek acts as a much-needed long-term monitoring site characteristic of the western Canadian Arctic.
The current research station was established in 2014 operating under Wilfrid Laurier University. The remote camp features several Weatherhaven tent structures, fully functioning solar and wind off-grid power systems, and incinerating toilets. Our research facilities host a variety of University, government and international research groups focusing on assessing all aspects of the physical environment. Much of the field work is conducted between April- September, however we do operate field campaigns year-round. Several remote weather stations exist across the research basin and contribute towards our long-term climate record for the area.
Trail Valley Creek Research basin lies within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) situated along the newly created Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) at approx. km 45. The watershed drains roughly 58 km2 into the Husky Lakes Estuary network where streamflow has been monitored by Water Survey of Canada since 1979.
Trail Valley Creek is located at the northern boundary of the tundra-boreal forest ecotone. Land cover here is characteristic of shrub tundra environments with isolated patches of spruce forests. The basin is underlain with continuous ice-rich permafrost with active layer thickness ranging from 0.3 m to 1 m.
The climate is characterized by short summers and long cold winters, with an 8-month snow-cover period. Mean annual air temperature is about -10 °C and annual precipitation is about 266 mm (66% of which is snow).
The Research Station plays host to a multi-disciplinary group of university, government and international researchers studying all aspects of the physical environment.
Trail Valley Creek features a large off-grid power system consisting of solar and wind generators with a backup diesel generator.
Other facilities include 3 Weatherhaven tents, 2 sea-cans, outdoor storage, incinerating toilets and satellite internet. This enables year-round research to be conducted throughout the harshest Arctic conditions.
The large off-grid power system enables development and testing of new sensors and equipment