Permafrost samples coming to Museum of Nature

By Jennifer Doede

The Canadian Museum of Nature’s upcoming Canada Goose Arctic Gallery will include two permafrost core samples in an exhibit that will teach visitors about the Arctic climate. These permafrost samples will be the first to ever be displayed in a Canadian museum.

Permafrost is any type of soil that remains below 0 C for at least two consecutive years and is primarily located in Arctic regions around the globe. As air and ground temperatures rise due to climate change in areas where permafrost is found, the permafrost begins to thaw, causing the Earth’s surface to become unstable. Houses or other structures built on these thawing sections are in danger of sinking into the ground as it loses its structural integrity.

Louis-Philippe Roy, a climate change and permafrost technical analyst, and permafrost researcher Dr. Fabrice Calmels discovered a method to preserve permafrost cores by placing them inside jars filled with silicone oil, which stops the evaporation of the ice inside the cores.

Roy helped transport the two samples from the Yukon to Ottawa, where they will be stored until the opening of the Arctic gallery. The cores will be on display for at least a decade.

“I think having these cores available to the public is really neat and will help enrich their understanding of what permafrost is. The gallery will also give visitors an idea of what it is like to live up north,” said Roy.

The Arctic gallery is the Canadian Museum of Nature’s contribution to Canada’s 150th birthday celebration and is set to open on June 21.