The Government of the Northwest Territories with support from Transport Canada’s Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative (NTAI) have supported a number of projects aimed at understanding how climate driven warming in northern Canada is contributing to permafrost thaw an infrastructure challenges. These projects include implementing an applied permafrost research program for the Dempster – Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) corridor, this acts as a precursor to adaptation action by producing a state-of-the-art ground temperature monitoring network. Other research projects include understanding the formation of aufeis (icings) on the ITH, surveying thaw-induced landslides along linear infrastructure in the Northwest Territories and examining the thermal and mechanical performance of embankments in the arctic following winter construction of the ITH. In this last case, near and long-term climate change models were considered in the project as well as broader insight related to northern temperature increases as outlined in the IPCC’s fifth assessment report.
In the summer of 2016, the second phase of the Northwest Territories Transportation Monitoring Program (NWTTMP) supported by Transport Canada, was approved, with the goal to continue existing research as well as to initiate new research into the effects of climate change on permafrost and transportation infrastructure. Phase 2 of the program is made up of four components located throughout the Northwest Territories. These include two test sections along the newly constructed Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway to monitor the structural stability of highway embankments, the installation of 24 thermistors along both newly constructed sections of the highway and off right-of-way locations, monitoring alternative watercourse structures at various locations along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway and the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, and four different sections along Highway No. 3 for testing and monitoring new rehabilitation techniques for roads constructed on discontinuous permafrost under warming conditions. The previous phase 1of the Monitoring Program commenced in 2015 and included two Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway permafrost research and development projects, a geotextile-reinforced deep fill embankment section and the implementation of an alternative plastic drainage culvert structure. Components of the program which have robust publicly available information will be explored further below. These include: two test sections along the newly constructed Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, and a state-of-the-art ground temperature monitoring network along the Dempster- Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) corridor.