Changing Cold Environments - A CanadianPerspective
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Changing Cold Environments; Implications for Global Climate Change is a comprehensive overview of the changing nature of the physical attributes of Canada's cold environments and the implications of these changes to cold environments on a global scale. The book places particular emphasis on the broader environmental science and sustainability issues that are of increasing concern to all cold regions if present global climate trends continue. Clearly structured throughout, the book focuses on those elements of Canada's cold environments that will be most affected by global climate change – namely, the tundra, sub-arctic and boreal forest regions of northern Canada, and the high mid-latitude mountains of western Canada. Implications are considered for similar environments around the world resulting in a timely text suitable for second and third year undergraduates in the environmental or earth sciences courses.


Hugh French taught at The University of Ottawa, Canada, in the Departments of Geography (1967-2003), Geology (1982-1992) and Earth Sciences (1998-2003). He was President of the International Permafrost Association (1998-2003) and Editor-in-Chief of the Wiley Interscience journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes (1990-2005). The Third Edition of his widely-used undergraduate text, The Periglacial environment, was published in January 2007 STD 692. He is now Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

Olav Slaymaker taught at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1964-1968) and at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Geography (1968-2004). He was President of the Canadian Association of Geographers (1991-1992), Editor in Chief of the interdisciplinary journal, Catena and President of the International Association of Geomorphologists. In 2007 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa by the University of Wales.


List of Contributors xi

Preface xiii

Glossary xv


1 Cold Canada and the Changing Cryosphere 3
Hugh French and Olav Slaymaker

1.1 Introduction 3

1.2 The Cryosphere 4

1.3 Cold Canada 10

1.4 Cold Climates 15

1.5 Arctic and Alpine Considerations 19

1.6 Canada's Physical Geography 21

2 The Late Quaternary Glaciation of Northern Canada 26
David Evans

2.1 Introduction 26

2.2 Landforms and the Late Quaternary Glaciations 26

2.3 Late Quaternary Sea level Change and its Relationship to Glaciation History 39

2.4 Late Quaternary Glaciation and Deglacial History 39

2.5 Wider Implications of Canadian Arctic Ice Sheet Dynamics 42

2.6 Holocene Glacial Events 44

3 The Evolution of Polar Desert and Tundra Ecosystems 48
Konrad Gajewski

3.1 Introduction 48

3.2 The Nature of the Environment 49

3.3 Ecology of Arctic Plants 51

3.4 Vegetation Zonation 53

3.5 Arctic Oases 55

3.6 Long term Evolution of Canadian Arctic Ecosystems 56

3.7 The Quaternary 58

3.8 Postglacial Climate and Vegetation Change in Arctic Canada 59

4 Remote Sensing and Canadian Snow Climatology 66
Richard Kelly

4.1 Introduction 66

4.2 The Importance of Snow in the Earth System 66

4.3 Snow Measurements in Canada 67

4.4 Remote Sensing of Snow 70

4.5 Snow Variations Inferred from Remote Sensing Observations 77

4.6 Discussion 82

4.7 Conclusion 82


5 The Changing Climates 89
Roger Barry and Mark Serreze

5.1 Introduction 89

5.2 Late Pliocene 89

5.3 Quaternary History 90

5.4 Postglacial Conditions 91

5.5 The Last Two Millennia 92

5.6 Recent Changes 94

5.7 The Future 96

6 Snow and Runoff: Processes, Sensitivity and Vulnerability 105
Ming-Ko Woo and John Pomeroy

6.1 Introduction 105

6.2 Snow Accumulation 107

6.3 Land Cover 109

6.4 Snow Ablation 111

6.5 Snowmelt Runoff Processes 113

6.6 Streamflow 117

6.7 Snowmelt Floods in Large Basins 118

6.8 Snow Vulnerability 122

7 Permafrost Distribution and Stability 126
Chris Burn

7.1 Introduction 126

7.2 Distribution of Permafrost 130

7.3 Thermal Regime of Permafrost 134

7.4 Permafrost and Climate Change 136

7.5 Conclusions 143

8 Sea Ice in Canada 147
David Barber and Jennifer Lukovich

8.1 Introduction 147

8.2 What is Sea Ice? 147

8.3 The Physical Nature of Sea Ice 148

8.4 Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Sea Ice 150

8.5 Sea Ice and Climate Change 158

8.6 Implications for Northern Communities, Economic Development and the Environment 160

9 Lake and River Ice in Canada 163
Terry Prowse

9.1 Introduction 163

9.2 Role in the Climate System 168

9.3 Climatic Controls 168

9.4 Historical Trends and Linkages to Climate 169

9.5 Future Ice Regime Projections 172

9.6 Implications of Ice Regime Changes 173


10 Climate Change and the Central Canadian Treeline 185
Glen MacDonald

10.1 Introduction 185

10.2 The Central Canadian Treeline Zone Today 186

10.3 Current Warming at the Central Canadian Treeline 188

10.4 Response of the Central Canadian Treeline to Warming Temperatures 191

11 Geomorphic Change in Northern Canada 200
Hugh French

11.1 Introduction 200

11.2 Lessons from the Past 202

11.3 Freezing, Thawing and Bedrock Instability 205

11.4 Warming Permafrost 205

11.5 Changes in Azonal Processes 213

11.6 Geotechnical Implications of Warming Permafrost 216

11.7 Conclusions 217

12 Geomorphic Change in Canada’s Temperate Mountains 222
Olav Slaymaker

12.1 Introduction 222

12.2 Present Morphology 223

12.3 Spatial Variability of Ecology and Morphology 224

12.4 Hydroclimate and Cryospheric Phenomena 228

12.5 Rates and Kinds of Geomorphic Processes 234

12.6 Disturbances Regimes and Landscape Transitions 240

12.7 Conclusions 242

13 Risk from Cold-climate Hazards in the Canadian Cordillera 247
Jim Gardner

13.1 Introduction 247

13.2 Cold-climate Hazards 247

13.3 Risk and Climate Variability 249

13.4 Conclusions 264

14 Societal Aspects of Changing Cold Environments 267
Gita Laidler

14.1 Introduction 267

14.2 Cultural Pursuits and Indigenous Rights 268

14.3 Local and Broader Implications of Changing Sea Ice 281

14.4 Northern Governance 292

14.5 Conclusions 294

15 The Changing Canadian Cryosphere, Globalization and Global Environmental Change 301
Olav Slaymaker and Hugh French

15.1 Introduction 301

15.2 The Question of Scale 302

15.3 Adaptive Management 308

15.4 Globalization 310

15.5 Conclusion 310

References 311

Discussion Questions 312

Some Useful Internet Sources 312

Index 313


“I would use this book in upper-level Environmental Science courses, as it presently is the most comprehensive book to include alpine and arctic regions, climatic, cryospheric, ecological and geomorphological aspects as well as human dimensions. It is wide enough in scope to use in an entire course, and yet has enough depth.”  (The
, 24 January 2013) 

“It will also be useful to North American scientists working in the North for its comprehensive coverage and its references. The editors and authors deserve thanks for a useful contribution.”  (Artic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 1 November 2012)

“Plentiful information presented in the book represent an overall view on past development, recent status and the prospective of Canadian Arctic from the global to regional point of view. Therefore, the book could be recommended to specialist in the field and also university students interested in climate change impact on polar ecosystems.”  (Czech Polar Reports, 1 October 2012)

"I highly recommend the research based and well structured book Changing Cold Environments: A Canadian Perspective edited by Hugh French and Olav Slaymaker, to any undergraduate students, journalists, policy makers, business leaders, and engineers seeking a complete overview of the impact of environmental change on cold climates. This book forms a solid knowledge base that has real value beyond the classroom, and into the boardrooms of business and the halls of government." (Blog Business World, 9 February 2012)