We did it! We climbed (and rolled down) Split Pingo! © Parks Canada
So, what exactly is a pingo anyway? Ask any grade-six student from Inuvik’s East Three Elementary or Tuktoyaktuk’s Mangilaluk School – they’ll burst with enthusiasm at the chance to show off some Pingo Pride. Every year, Parks Canada staff from Inuvik and the grade-six students travel to the Pingo Canadian National Landmark as part of Pingo Pride. Students experience the pingos first hand to learn why the pingos are special and how they can protect them, even re-enacting the making of a pingo.
“Pingos are big hills with a centre made of ice!” blurts out one student, “all pingos were once lakes”, states another. Many students shout out the word “PERMAFROST”. Ah, there is the 10 million dollar buzz word we’re looking for!
Pingos are only found in areas with permafrost where freezing and thawing change the landscape dramatically. Essentially, pingos are formed when lakes drain. In the summer months, the residual water seeps below the lake bed or the soil. When the winter returns, the ground starts to freeze and pushes inwards against the permafrost while the water below the soil starts to push up. Like muffins baking in a tin, they have nowhere else to go but up.
One of the ways students suggested protecting these unique landmarks is to make sure they don’t ride snowmobiles on the pingos because it can harm the plants that protect the ice filled centre.
“I didn’t know that pingos are important for nesting arctic foxes and snow geese – but now I do!”
Pingos have cultural significance too. Hunters and travellers use them as landmarks to know where they are on the water or the snow covered landscape – much like highway signs today.
The best part of the day? Meeting new friends and sliding down the pingos of course!
Test your knowledge! See how much pingo pride you have!
Where are they found?
Pingos are formed in areas with permafrost where freezing and thawing change the landscape. The Pingo Canadian Landmark protects 8 of the estimated 1,350 pingos found around Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, but pingos are also found in the Yukon, Nunavut, Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland.
How old are they?
An average life-span of a pingo is about 1,000 years.
Why are they protected?
The Inuvialuit Final Agreement
in 1984 established the Pingo Canadian Landmark as well as the three national parks found in the western arctic today. The Inuvialuit work with Parks Canada to ensure these special places are protected and presented.