Northern permafrost soon to be museum piece in Ottawa


The Canadian Museum of Quality in Ottawa will soon have a cool new exhibit — some true permafrost core samples, collected nearly 6,000 kilometres away in Yukon.

“This hasn’t been done in Canada ahead — it’s a first in that we can have cores presented in a museum, actually congealed cores,” said Louis-Philippe Roy, a researcher at Yukon College who helped hand down a way to display the samples while preserving them at the same time.

Caching permafrost samples in a regular chest freezer would cause the moisture to dissolve out over time, Roy said. The cores would also quickly alloy if they were regularly taken out of a freezer to be shown and handled.

Roy and another researcher, Fabrice Calmels, loosely transpire b emerged up with a new way to display the cores — sealed in a glass jar filled with silicone oil, which jellies the permafrost and magnifies it for viewing. The samples can then be kept in a standard glass-front refrigerator.


The Yukon Enquiry Centre, at Yukon College, has its own display of permafrost samples, collected in the area. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

“[It] allows us to have a nice clean display,” Roy contemplated. “It’s going to allow other people that live in the southern quarters to see what is permafrost.

“We hear about permafrost thawing and climate revolution, but it’s hard to really put an image on it.”

‘The Arctic is changing’

Two core samples, unperturbed at a depth of 2.8 metres near Burwash Landing, Yukon, include already been sent to the museum, but won’t be seen by the public until June. That’s when the museum’s new Arctic gallery intent open.

“We’re going to explore the geography of the Arctic, we’re going to talk with regard to climate, we’re going to talk about sustainability … and we’re looking at the ecosystems,” remarked Caroline Lanthier, with the museum.

Highway 3 bumps

Thawing permafrost threatens infrastructure in assorted parts of the North. Here, a driver heads over a bumpy resiliency of Highway 3, between Yellowknife and Behchoko, N.W.T. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

The permafrost trials will be displayed alongside things such as fossilized trees from Nunavut’s Axel Heiberg key, and Thule cultural artifacts.

Lanthier says the permafrost samples wishes be part of an exhibit focussed on Arctic climate.

“The Arctic is changing, and with ambience change the permafrost is melting, and that’s impacting infrastructure, that’s impacting the flora and fauna unexploded in the Arctic, and the people living in the Arctic,” she said.

“If a picture is worth a thousand consultations, now we have the actual thing … there’s nothing that measures having the actual sample in front of you.”

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