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Observations of Large Air Pockets Within the Slave River Ice Cover

Author(s): Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt; Earl Evans; Apurba Das; Thuan Chu

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Abstract: Changes in the behaviour and characteristics of the Slave River ice cover due to flow regulation are a key concern for the communities along this river in the Northwest Territories (NWT). In particular air pockets or air layers in the ice cover significantly impact traditional ways of living and subsistence activities during winter. These formations pose a major obstacle to winter travel to hunting, trapping and fishing areas. There is a great risk to travel on the river ice because large, trapped air pockets within the ice cover make the ice at these locations thin and unstable and impede thermal thickening of the ice cover. The bulges that these pockets form are difficult to detect especially on cloudy, hazy days when there is little light contrast to highlight contours along the snow covering the ice. The air pockets can become quite large and snowmobiles have broken through the pocket areas, making winter travel on the ice at times a very treacherous ordeal. The main purpose of this research is to investigate plausible reasons for air pocket formation along the Slave River ice cover.

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Year: 2016

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