Stephen A. Wolfe

Stephen A. Wolfe
Natural Resources Canada | NRCan · Geological Survey of Canada

PhD

About

150
Publications
34,650
Reads
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3,532
Citations
Citations since 2016
44 Research Items
1808 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
Additional affiliations
August 2003 - present
Carleton University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
April 1995 - present
Natural Resources Canada
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Climate change geoscience in arctic and cold-climate envionments

Publications

Publications (150)
Article
Full-text available
The lower Athabasca River basin in northeastern Alberta contains one of the highest known concentrations of prehistoric archaeological sites in the boreal forests of western Canada. This is due to the combination of readily available sources of lithic raw material stone near a major travel corridor, and extensive archaeological survey conducted in...
Poster
Full-text available
New infrastructure corridors within the Slave Geological Province could provide transportation, electric, and communications links to mineral-rich areas of northern Canada, and connect southern highway systems and Arctic shipping routes. Relatively little information on permafrost and ground ice is available compared to other regions, particularly...
Article
Glacier-fed river systems represent potentially significant sediment sources for aeolian processes owing to sediment production, flow seasonality, and winds within mountain settings. We investigate the timing and rates of Holocene loess and aeolian sand deposition in three major river valleys (Bow, North Saskatchewan and Athabasca) of the southeast...
Technical Report
This Open File presents national-scale mapping of ground ice conditions in Canada. The mapping depicts a first-order estimate of the combined volumetric percentage of excess ice in the top 5 m of permafrost from segregated, wedge, and relict ice. The estimates for the three ice types are based on modelling by O'Neill et al. (2019) (https://doi.org/...
Article
Oriented lakes—characterized by elongate forms, central basins and shallow littoral shelves—are common features of circum-arctic coastal lowlands. The environmental conditions, geological processes and chronology associated with the development of oriented lakes, however, are little known but essential for understanding how such Arctic lowlands evo...
Article
This study developed and applied a framework for assessing vulnerability of pan-Canadian water resources to permafrost thaw. The national-scale work addresses a key, but neglected, information gap as previous research has focused on small scale physical processes and circumpolar trends. The framework was applied to develop the Canadian Water Resour...
Article
Winter roads provide an important transportation service in northern regions. The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road (TCWR), traversing subarctic Canada, is the busiest heavy-haul road in the world with as many as 10,900 truckloads per season. In addition to lake-ice thickness, trafficability on the TCWR depends upon adequate freezeback of overland p...
Article
Full-text available
Deposits of well sorted silica-rich beach sands occur along the western shore of Great Slave Lake around Whitebeach Point, Northwest Territories. Much of these deposits were windblown and redeposited following Holocene regression of glacial Lake McConnell and ancestral Great Slave Lake. Eolian deposits include active and stabilized sand sheets, tra...
Conference Paper
In the North Slave region, permafrost developed in a time transgressive manner throughout the Holocene with lake-level recession, giving rise to the Great Slave Lowland and Great Slave Upland ecoregions of the subarctic Canadian Shield. Thermokarst in the region is commonly associated with degradation of numerous ice-cored mounds called lithalsas....
Conference Paper
In the North Slave region, permafrost developed in a time transgressive manner throughout the Holocene with lake-level recession, giving rise to the Great Slave Lowland and Great Slave Upland ecoregions of the subarctic Canadian Shield. Thermokarst in the region is commonly associated with degradation of numerous ice-cored mounds called lithalsas....
Article
Full-text available
Ground ice melt caused by climate-induced permafrost degradation may trigger significant ecological change, damage infrastructure, and alter biogeochemical cycles. The fundamental ground ice mapping for Canada is now >20 years old and does not include significant new insights gained from recent field- and remote-sensing-based studies. New modelling...
Conference Paper
The timing and character of post-glacial climate-driven landscape change in western Canada is largely understood by observing changes in eolian landforms. In many cases a paucity of material suitable for radiocarbon dating has required the use of optical dating (often referred to as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating) to put the nature...
Conference Paper
Glacially-fed river systems represent potentially significant sediment sources for eolian processes, owing to the volume of sediment production, seasonality of flow, and synoptic wind conditions within mountain and continental settings. In these settings, eolian deposition can play a major role in influencing local to regional ecosystems. However,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Icings were investigated near the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road to examine the relation of overflow timing to air and ground temperature, rainfall, and winter road construction. Icings developed before the end of active-layer freezeback by intermittent overflow of water from upstream lakes. Open-system freezing in saturated peat caused build-up...
Article
Sphagnum riparium (Ångström) is a rare constituent of modern peatland plant communities and is also very rarely found as a subfossil in peat archives. We present new data on the occurrence of Sphagnum riparium macrofossils in three Northern Hemisphere peatlands from Yellowknife (NW Canada), Abisko (N Sweden), and the Northern Ural Mountains (NW Rus...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost stores globally significant amounts of carbon (C) which may start to decompose and be released to the atmosphere in form of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and methane (CH 4 ) as global warming promotes extensive thaw. This permafrost carbon feedback to climate is currently considered to be the most important carbon-cycle feedback missing from cl...
Article
Contemporary sand wedges and sand veins are active in seasonally frozen ground within the extensive discontinuous permafrost zone in Northwest Territories, Canada. The region has a subarctic continental climate with 291 mm a⁻¹ precipitation, −4.1 °C mean annual air temperature, warm summers (July mean 17.0 °C), and cold winters (January mean −26.6...
Article
Lithalsas of the Great Slave Lowland, Northwest Territories, occur within fine-grained glaciolacustrine, lacustrine, and alluvial deposits. Detailed investigations of a lithalsa revealed that it is composed of ice-rich sediments with ice lenses up to 0.2 m thick below 4 m depth. The observed ice accounted for about 2 m of the 4 m between the top of...
Chapter
The Great Slave Lowland of the Taiga Shield is an 11,000 km2 low-elevation granitic bedrock plain along the north shore of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. It is characterized by a mosaic of coniferous and deciduous forest cover, wetlands, sparsely vegetated bedrock outcrops, and peatlands. The region was glaciated until about 13,000 years...
Chapter
The Slave Geological Province of the Tundra Shield is a Late Archean craton extending from the north shore of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories to the Coronation Gulf in Nunavut. Underlain by metavolcanic and metasedimentary rocks intruded by granitoid plutons, the region is rich in gold, base metals, and diamonds and hosts numerous his...
Chapter
The Prairie dune archipelago describes the widely distributed dune fields extending across the Canadian Prairie Provinces. These dune fields have a common origin, with sediment supply derived from sandy outwash deposits associated with meltwaters of receding Laurentide and Cordilleran glacial ice. Wind reworked sediments soon after deglaciation, in...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper examines three types of ground ice occurring within permafrost. The primary purpose is to identify ground ice potential in present-day permafrost terrain and to understand the impacts that warming will have on the cryosphere. Type 1 (formational) ice forms as permafrost aggrades into unfrozen ground and its excess ice is mainly segregate...
Article
Full-text available
Models predict that thaw of permafrost soils at northern high latitudes will release tens of billions of tonnes of carbon (C) to the atmosphere by 2100 (refs 1,2,3). The effect on the Earth’s climate depends strongly on the proportion of this C that is released as the more powerful greenhouse gas methane (CH4), rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) (ref...
Article
The Bigstick and Seward Sand Hills are possibly two of the oldest dune fields within the late Wisconsin glaciated regions of the Northern Great Plains. As with most Northern Great Plains dune fields, source sediments are former proglacial outwash sands. Thus, Holocene dune construction is primarily related to spatial–temporal variations in surface...
Data
Data S1. Regional setting, Justification of SEM design, Discussion of individual site ALTs. Fig. S1. Map showing location of study sites. Fig. S2. Percentage cover of understory species within the four sites. Fig. S3. Growing season (1st June 2014 – 1st September 2014) daily climate data. Table S1. Summary statistics for each of the parameters...
Article
Full-text available
The INQUA Dunes Atlas project has developed a global digital database of chronological information for periods of inland or continental sand dune accumulation and stabilization. The database comprises information on the site location (including coordinates), dune type, and stratigraphic context, pertinent analytical information (e.g. luminescence p...
Article
Icing development in the subarctic Canadian Shield is statistically related to antecedent autumn rainfall and periodic warming intervals in winter. Here, we integrate observations of streamflow, meteorology, and river icing dynamics at the Baker Creek Research Basin, Northwest Territories. We demonstrate that icing development is concordant with wi...
Data
Oldenborger G.A., Wolfe S.A., Morse P.D., Pugin A., 2016. Delineation of permafrost and ice-rich terrain within fine-grained sediments using electrical resistivity, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. International Conference on Permafrost, Potsdam, Germany, 969–970.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Günther, F. and Morgenstern, A. (Eds.) (2016): XI. International Conference On Permafrost – Book of Abstracts, 20 – 24 June 2016, Potsdam, Germany. Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, doi:10.2312/GFZ.LIS.2016.001
Article
Lithalsas (ice-cored permafrost mounds) are common within silty clay sediments of the Great Slave Lowland, a low-relief bedrock plain extending to about 50m above Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. Following retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, sediment deposition in the lowland accompanied inundation by glacial Lake McConnell between about 1...
Article
Full-text available
Carbon release from thawing permafrost soils could significantly exacerbate global warming as the active-layer deepens, exposing more carbon to decay. Plant community and soil properties provide a major control on this by influencing the maximum depth of thaw each summer (active-layer thickness; ALT), but a quantitative understanding of the relativ...
Article
Field observations show significant impacts of wildfires on active layer thickness and ground temperatures. However, the importance of fires to permafrost conditions at regional scales remains unclear, especially with climate warming. This study evaluated the regional impacts of fire on permafrost with climate change from 1942 to 2100 using a proce...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Recognition of lithalsas in the Great Slave Lowland, NT, prompted an investigation to determine the geomorphic origin and composition of one lithalsa. Ice-poor conditions occur within the upper 4 m of substrate, with substantial increases in ice content at greater depths within clays. The lithalsa core is composed of layered ice lenses over 0.1 m t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The standard expression for soil gravimetric water content is on a dry basis (mass of water per unit mass of dry soil). In ice-rich soil, this method may produce extremely high values that are difficult to interpret. Alternatively, the wet-basis gravimetric water content (mass of water per unit mass of field-moist soil) may be used. Until now, this...
Conference Paper
In this study, we test the significance of identified meteorological forcing variables against a long-term dataset of icing dynamics and distribution developed for the Yellowknife region, Northwest Territories. Overall, 28% of icing density interannual variation is explained by winter warming periods (5°C) and autumn rainfall. Interannual icing de...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The thermal and physical states of permafrost in natural and developed settings along NWT Highway 3 are examined and implications of recent realignment between Behchoko and Yellowknife are discussed. Permafrost occurs in natural terrain beneath peatlands and forested fine-grained (glacio) lacustrine sediments. Natural and developed sites indicate s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Great Slave Lowland occupies the north shore of Great Slave Lake. After glaciation, it was inundated by Glacial Lake McConnell and ancestral Great Slave Lake. Holocene lake-level recession around Yellowknife is determined from accelerator mass spectrometer ages of peat and detrital organics. In the last 8000 years, recession occurred at about 5...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The thermal and physical states of permafrost in natural and developed settings along NWT Highway 3 are examined and implications of recent realignment between Behchoko and Yellowknife are discussed. Permafrost occurs in natural terrain beneath peatlands and forested fine-grained (glacio) lacustrine sediments. Natural and developed sites indicate s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Permafrost in the Great Slave region, Northwest Territories is absent beneath bedrock outcrops, but occurs beneath peatlands. A three-year (2010 to 2013) investigation determined that permafrost also occurs in unconsolidated fine grained sediments beneath forested sites. Annual mean shallow permafrost temperatures range from -1.4 to 0°C, with spati...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In northern Canada, ground temperatures are measured for a number of reasons including permafrost research and infrastructure development. A template for reporting metadata on ground temperature datasets will allow data to be easily shared between various users, and is a necessary step towards a permafrost database. We outline a metadata template f...
Article
Permafrost underlies peatlands of the Great Slave region, Northwest Territories, Canada, but permafrost relations beneath other ecotopes of black spruce (Picea mariana), white birch (Betula papyrifera) and mixed forests remain unknown. Permafrost-ecotope relations examined over a 3 year period (2010–13) establish the occurrence and thermal state of...
Article
Full-text available
Uncertainty about the geological processes that deposited syngenetically frozen ice-rich silt (yedoma) across hundreds of thousands of square kilometres in central and northern Siberia fundamentally limits our understanding of the Pleistocene geology and palaeoecology of western Beringia, the sedimentary processes that led to sequestration of hundr...
Article
Icings are widespread yet poorly understood winter hydrological phenomena that develop over the winter by freezing successive overflows of groundwater to the surface. Groundwater hydrology in arctic regions is constrained by geological setting and permafrost extent, and overflows are possibly driven by cold winters, winter warming intervals, high a...
Article
Geomorphic and chronologic data for dune fields are evaluated for three contrasting areas of North America: 1) the Prairie, Parkland and Boreal ecozones of the northern Great Plains in Canada; 2) the Central Great Plains of the USA; and 3) the deserts of southwestern USA and northern Mexico. Luminescence and radiocarbon ages for periods of dune acc...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The INQUA Dunes Atlas project has developed a global digital database of chronologic information for periods of desert sand dune accumulation and stabilization. The database currently contains 3278 luminescence and 535 radiocarbon records of directly dated periods of aeolian sand deposition from 1200 inland dune locations throughout the world, most...
Article
Full-text available
Spatially detailed information on permafrost distribution and change with climate is important for land-use planning and for environmental and ecological assessments. However, the required soil and surficial geology maps in the north are coarse, and projected climate scenarios vary widely. Considering these uncertainties, we propose a new approach...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract. Spatially detailed information on permafrost distribution and change with climate is important for land use planning, infrastructure development, and environmental assessments. However, the required soil and surficial geology maps in the North are coarse, and projected climate scenarios vary widely. Considering these uncertainties, we pro...
Article
Full-text available
Satellite remote sensing is a promising technology for monitoring natural and anthropogenic changes occurring in remote, northern environments. It offers the potential to scale-up ground-based, local environmental monitoring efforts to document disturbance types, and characterize their extents and frequencies at regional scales. Here we present a s...